Tu Me Manques

by Samantha Joy Sabatini

In the dream,
we are toddlers again
and once a year,
my stepfather shoots my brother

it happens in the bathroom behind the door
my brother has a wide-eyed gaze
and the gun goes off before I can intervene,
and I’m left waking up in cold sweat,
and become mute for days

I wish I was four feet from the sun
so I could only burn and nothing else,
I wish I was four feet away from my soul,
so I wouldn’t have to be myself

When people demanded an answer
I gave them a question
you could be dead
but I am the ghost

When I’m with my boyfriends,
I tap their spinal cords with my fingertips
reciting my worries in Portuguese
They believe I’m singing a lullaby

Your black balloons are tied to my wrist
I want to see the movement of air in your lungs

outside the front porch,
the rotting flowers are blooming,
the trees have ruby red cherries in the ice storm,
the seeds of hands that I wish would’ve touched me
come back again and again

You have never spoken a minute in your 21 years
I live with you every day
but on my wrists are engraved
Tu me manques
(you are missing from me)

brother, we were born hiking on a trail
You fell off of it, and my skeleton pulled your body
out from beneath the river.
brother I will grasp you,
place my brain inside of you

my molecular level of hurt expands

In nightmares
of stepfathers we never had
I still cannot save you

back to University & College Poetry Prizes