You keep the valentine up on the fridge: cardinals
beak to beak and a red heart behind them. Be mine.
I say I met you on the treadmill at the Y, dual
runners facing the window, turning up the speed to
impress, getting shocked repeatedly. The old, old
equipment. And how hot our hands were, tuning
our hearts into the machines, beat after beat until
they added up to something. The burn zone. But
none of that is true. Personal ads for anonymous sex
sometimes breed love. But it was your mountain
bike I got, light rust and its various speeds. The sex
that day was elsewhere and mediocre, in a dirty
apartment I left itching and still hungry. You and I
laughed a lot. You held on to the bike for a time and
I looked at your hands. We talked about movies and
TV. Arrested Development and CSI, but mostly about
Julia Roberts and how maybe she and her brother
Eric were really the same person because we’d never
seen them on film together. “Maybe he doesn’t
exist.” “Maybe she doesn’t.” Erin Brockovich was not
the answer to anything. There is a space between us
that day that one could park two bicycles in. I’m not
even close enough to grab your arm when you say
something witty. My hand touches air and returns
to my side. “We should ride together sometime,” I
say. But you’ve just given me your only bike.
Elizabeth J. Colen is most recently the author of What Weaponry, a novel in prose poems. Other books include poetry collections Money for Sunsets (Lambda Literary Award finalist in 2011) and Waiting Up for the End of the World: Conspiracies, flash fiction collection Dear Mother Monster, Dear Daughter Mistake, long poem / lyric essay hybrid The Green Condition, fiction collaboration Your Sick, and the forthcoming fiction collaboration True Ash. Nonfiction editor at Tupelo Press and freelance editor/manuscript consultant, she teaches at Western Washington University.
Jessica Rae Bergamino is the author of UNMANNED, forthcoming from Noemi Press, as well as the chapbooks The Desiring Object or Voyager Two Explains to the Gathering of Stars How She Came to Glow Among Them (Sundress Publications), The Mermaid Singing (dancing girl press), and Blue in All Things: a Ghost Story (dancing girl press). Individual poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Third Coast, Black Warrior Review, Colorado Review, and Southern Humanities Review. She is a doctoral student in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Utah, where she serves as Reviews Editor for Quarterly West.
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