by Emily Present
I saw you by the train again today. It was as if you never left. White sneakers. Black shirt. Blue jeans like a babe. You smiled like you do— which is barely. You smiled like it never happened.
I thought I remembered but now I’m not so sure. I haven’t heard a word come out of your mouth in days. The last time was Tuesday on the phone with your mother—at least I think it was your mother. It could have been your girlfriend or your wife if you’re into that kind of thing. You never told me. I didn’t think to ask. I’m used to it. This. You. I like to think you remember me and part of me is certain that you do. But again, who’s to know? I can’t help it. I’m really very sensitive. Can’t you tell? This is all to say— I think I love you. Is it that obvious? It’s disgusting. Sometimes I stare at you so hard and also so discreetly that you almost don’t exist. Maybe you’re seeing me for the first time. In that case, here’s my number. If I were someone who did that kind of thing. That is — give out my number. But I don’t. I wish I did. This would be a lot easier if I did. It’s easy for you. Easier. It’s easy for me too but not as much. But also, who said I was easy? You. I remember your feet. Toenails too long even for me and my taste. I remember the dirt. You can’t be all bad. Just some parts. Although, I am. I like your belt today. I haven’t seen this one. It’s usually brown with a silver round buckle—today’s buckle is square. I can’t tell if I love or hate your leather messenger bag. I find it simultaneously super lame and seductive. You look like you get the hardcopy of the newspaper. Like you annotate your feelings. Do you? Wait, don’t answer that. I don’t want to know. I like not knowing. You look like you eat hard boiled eggs in the morning and that you always scald yourself with your Colombian blend coffee. You cant help it. It’s always just a little too hot. You drink it out of a mug that says “BOSS.” You go to work and you like your job. You don’t stir the pot. You think you’re good. You think you know who you are and what you’re all about. She thinks so, too. I’m sure of all this. Like I am of you. You try to love as hard as the movies showed you when you were twelve and thirteen, just birthing into your body. You never had acne as a kid. You were pretty blessed. You still are. If I could measure your body again, I would. Your limbs telling mine to shut the fuck up. If I could smell your dulled egg breath one more time, I might. You look good. Did I say that already? It’s always the same but different watching you walk away. I have something to tell you, though. Something I didn’t get the chance to say. So, I’ll see you here tomorrow, right?
EMILY PRESENT is a writer from and still based in New York City. She co-founded and has been managing editor of the online literary magazine, G*MOB (formerly GlitterMOB) since 2014. Her book of poems, Cherry Lime Gospel, was published in 2020 by Bottlecap Press (featured in NYLON and NYMag). She is an MFA Candidate in Creative Writing at Stony Brook University where she is the recipient of The Martell Prize in Creative Writing.