Hazelton - Alea Shurmantine

“Do you even care?”

If I squint, the streetlamp looks like 
a daffodil. 
This time, he wrote a list. 
This time his voice cracks. 

What can I say?

My legs are too long 
for your passenger seat
I forget about water 
I’ve left boiling on the stove 
more often than I remember 
how wholly I broke you
Of course I care 
You’ve grown so thin 
I avoid your name 
like a pothole, like bitter wine
You were never this thin 
I cannot forgive you for loving me 
I don’t know 
Thin as sandpaper, as cobwebs, 
as December wind 
through the dying grapevines

This time he wrote a letter. 
He is drinking coffee. 
It will keep him up all night. 

Do I care?

“If I squint, the streetlamp looks like 

a daffodil.”

Alea Shurmantine

“I haven’t heard you laugh in weeks,” he says. 
The fire crackles a few feet away. “Look—” she begins, 
walking to stand beside the window. Her 
interlaced fingers point to her own chest. “I don’t 
think we see the same colors. I don’t—” 
Breathes in. Breathes out. “I’m not the baptism 
you want me to be.” She draws lines 
in the frost on the windowpane. Looks at him. 
She says, “I’m too young.” “I don’t understand,” he says. 
“Even the cliffs by the ocean will erode 
into sand,” she tells him. Storm clouds have been looming 
all day, her voice seems to come from a place 
she’s never been. “It just takes time.” Inhales. Exhales. 
“You have shackles for arms, do you know that? 
You love like chains.” A gust of wind rattles the door. 
He jumps. She doesn’t. “What can I do?” he asks. 
She says, “Forgive.” Her fingertips paint 
patternless swirls across the glass. He asks, “Is there 
someone else?” The fire is dwindling, the logs 
letting go of their last ashes. She raises her hands to her face 
and finds, miraculously, that it is still there. “There’s 
everyone I’ve never met,” she says. Turns 
to look outside. She whispers, “There are raindrops.”