To Hold a Candle
by Shaun Terry
I still smell the singed centers of our final photographs,
but I can’t forget the figures forged in my mind.
I’m sitting in the center of my queen-size bed
with tape on my mouth,
but you can’t keep me from crying over you.
I’m terrified that you’ll never forgive me.
I’ve always loved you more than I’ve loved anyone,
and to be rejected so completely, so viciously, so callously,
means I’ve failed in the most profound way;
I wasn’t good enough
when I most needed to be.
“Rejection-Sensitive Dysphoria,” they’ll call it,
and they’ll be right.
And it’s incredibly excruciating.
But it’s something else, too.
There’s peculiar magic between us,
even if we’ve made it too complicated for now.
I know how to love myself.
I’ve just been doing a bad job, lately.
I keep entering your number in my phone,
just to press “End” instead of “Send.”
I want to respect your wishes, and I’ll continue to,
but I miss you so badly.
I don’t just want to be friends,
but I’d settle for sometimes talking to you.
Until then, I’ll work at being better
for both our sakes,
and you go ahead and do what you want.
I’ll keep your secrets.
I talked to your dad, but I didn’t tell him anything to make him judge you.
I see that you’ve changed your hair,
so I know that all this pain is meaningful to you.
It’s okay to be scared,
but this is so painful.
I have faith in us both.
You’re the most beautiful person I’ve ever known,
even when you’re at your worst.
Maybe you’re just reminding me that I never deserved you.
So when you’re all done being angry,
when you can finally forgive yourself for our failures,
I’ll be here, waiting for you to let me be your friend again,
wanting to hold you.