Ninth Place: Ash Freeman

An Abecedarian for Gwynn

again, i’ve been absent from your life, or at least i have been for four and a half years,
before my hair was blue and yours was long and curly and jewish. we met at
camp the summer before freshman year and i made you listen to led zeppelin as you
drove your dad’s blue 1959 thunderbird. i saw you reading apostles’ creed and you looked like
elixir through the evergreens and broken pine needles. there were boys playing tetherball and one
fell flat on his fat nose and you didn’t notice because you were hiding your freckles from the sun.
Gwynn, you have a long story behind your name spun by spiders and etched across my skin, a name
hinged over my lungs, a breath. but we’re just new friends, a new way of saying
interlochen brought us together but that was four years ago. i barely know you. you chopped off
jewish curls and i shaved my head out of impulse. if i asked you now, would you tie
knots around my throat, take my tongue from my mouth and loop it through my teeth? you say you’re
living but not alive and you’ve got me tongue tied at two a.m. call me the pen writer, you’re
moonlike and black ink. inky eyes and you say i’m striking. milky skin and you say i glow. i say
nectar to a monarch, honeysuckle to a hummingbird. four years of silence, the freshman are seniors,
open baby’s breath, a shoe full of white rice dangling from the popcorned ceiling. i am the
pen writer and you are the typist because you had a tumor in your right thumb when you were born and
quickly typing makes the stitches feel less there but your moonbright skin still glares
right against ivory piano keys, songs you wrote in a language you made: gibberish and japanese. On
skype you call me striking, say my blue eyes are striking. i tell you they’re green. and you,
typist, i think you know by now, i have a habit of kissing strangers but you’re not strange. you’re
unique or maybe just sweet enough, a candied sugarkiss of a mixtape, to know the
violence of strangers is a subtle one. quiet at first, then a burn and a chip in the
woodwork of bonds that fade before they can break. i have more
exes than i can count on both hands because i’m sharp when i shatter and i forget what
youth feels like: it’s a crashing blue 1959 thunderbird, elixir through the evergreens, and
zoloft flooding an already polluted system with thoughts of you.