It’s a process. You taught me that. But the lessons
ended before we ever got to the practical side of things
which, trite as it sounds, changed everything. I turned into
one of those people who didn’t know the difference
between real and make-believe and was afraid of both.
I walked around not stepping on cracks because I honestly
thought the sidewalk was going to swallow me whole.
Why wouldn’t something terrible happen, again? As for myself,
I think people are capable of anything; that’s your fault as well.
It’s funny how you think because I write about it
it’s done—over, as they say—because I, for one, can still hear the
memories of our home. They are perfect only in their clarity.
I’ve learned, from you, courage does not exist. It’s just desperation
and good intentions. I’ve heard, though not from you, of course,
the opposite of love is not hate, but selfishness and I believe
now that I’m capable of such things. Even so, I’m amazed how a well
placed word can change the entire course of a life. It’s incredible
when you get down to the meat of it; we spend so much of ourselves
waiting to hear words we know don’t exist anymore, not for us anyways.
For us, these are places we can’t return to; things we’re not going to do.
I think of you, in case you didn’t know, despite everything.
I don’t know why, only that I’ll never know. It’s a cold
understanding that I’m thankful and afraid of because it reminds me
I’ll never forget and I wanted to be a better person than this.
Cetoria Tomberlin is a poet and writer originally from South Georgia. She received her bachelor’s degree in creative writing from Berry College. Her work has previously appeared in Fairy Tale Review, NonBinary Review, Southern Women’s Review, LADYGUNN, and various other publications.