For Nikki

by krstaten

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I don’t often wonder where you are these days.
After the third pregnancy you smoked and drank
all the way through, and the second time
you joined Narcotics Anonymous for sex, collecting
sobriety tags that you kept next to your blunt wraps,
I decided I was okay with the fact
that you were only a part of my past,
only a piece of a puzzle I’d decided
I had no interest in putting together again.

After all, the house ravaged by the tornado,
however changed it may be, does not wish
for the storm’s return. Nikki, you
were the storm that wrecked me, childhood
devoured like so many splinters.
I grew around you like a vine, and thought
you would be the first person
who would teach me what forever meant.
I would have walked through the tornado for you.

You taught me more about wreckage
than anyone ever did about eternity.
Still I clung to you like late April
blizzards, winter refusing to leave,
ice trapping the finest twigs and new
buds. I clung to you like friendship
bracelets tied too tight, braided crooked,
old and frayed and stubborn.

This isn’t about you. It’s about me.
It’s about the way I hold too tightly;
the way all the phantoms have me
by the throat and still I tell them,
take what you need. Whether from fear
or naivete, parasites are better company
than loneliness, or so I thought–

until the storm passed. Until spring came
against my will and pried my fingers
from the branches. Until the seasons
changed and you became one thing and I
became the other, and those early June storms
tore me apart until I had no choice but to rebuild.

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