After You Left

Katrina K Guarascio

I hung your shadow outside my window,
so hopefully you would come to retrieve it.

I was always more your Wendy
than your mermaid.

My scales never stuck to your skin
and my name easily escaped your mind,
leaving me to wonder
if you ever really knew me.

I gave you my thimble too soon,
a clever kiss and nothing more,
too eager for the fondness of a new boy.

I was more your Wendy than your fairy friend.
My hands too soft for metal work,
my body too large for just one emotion.

But you,
you were always my Peter.
Cock-sure, congratulating your cleverness,
miss minded and forgetful

Your attentions waver,
but your affection your loyalty
was as stubborn as a child’s lower lip.

You stayed up all night in front of my door
hand on your dagger, spark in your eye
knowing from the curl of smoke
mischief was about.

But I never asked you to fight my battles.
You never had to win me;
I was always yours.

After all, it was the kiss
you left on my chest that saved my life.

I want to be your fierce friend,
your clever cousin,
dance with you on high rocks,
without fear of falling.

Listen to your first laugh
like a child watching soap bubbles pop.

Let that laugh linger
on your breath for eternity,
even if it means leaving you
to your own adventures.

Too many years have passed.
You have forgotten me.
Left me sitting beside
a window in my new dress.

And I,
I have forgotten how to fly.

I became a woman
two days before every other girl.
I no longer listen for your crow.
You have become nothing
more than dust on old toys.
I grew up despite my childish promises.

This woman’s voice no longer knows
how to speak to such a boy.

But I’ll still think of you
in that place between sleeping and awake,
where we still remember dreaming.

Your shadow waits upon window sill.

Come,
reclaim it,

before returning to
your wandering island,
trailing
my childhood
and best intentions
in a shimmering wake.

“After You Left” is previously published in Leaves of Ink (2013), They Don’t Make Memories Like That Anymore (2011), and September (2014).