Jonathan is four years old
and his sister Colette whispers in my ear,
"I think he loves you as much as our mom."
He wants me to carry him on my shoulders.
He wants me to read him a story and run with him around the house.
He wants to pile pillows on top of me
and listen to their uncle play the guitar for all of us.
When their grandparents wanted to take them to the grocery store,
Colette invited me along and I agreed and ran downstairs to get my coat,
long and tan with buttons. I pulled it over my arms and shoulders
and walked into the front hall, where Jonathan was waiting for me.
"Where is the girl with the long hair?" he said.
"That's me." I replied. "I'm Emily. I just put my coat on."
"You put your coat on?"
"But why is that you?"
You throw on a coat and become a different person.
I thought I knew you so well, understood you so fully.
I thought I'd found a feel for your potential,
that I could predict what you would do in certain situations.
But this situation I saw long before it ever happened,
before you even knew it was going to happen,
and I was all wrong, and I put it away,
completely unprepared when it was realized.
Instead of being ready, I ran, hyperventilating, up the stairs, crying,
Screaming, gasping, like there had been a death, a rape,
I terrified my mother and my friends, I wandered around the city,
stopping and sitting down,
numbed on each park bench.
I slept for days straight, and when I woke up,
I looked frantically for things that wouldn't remind me I was human.
My life was avoidance and distraction,
calling my mother,
waiting until it was dark enough to sleep again,
wanting to be alone but wanting people
to talk about anything besides the present or home.
Identity is often defined by action,
And in my reaction I changed completely,
realizing who I was and where I was headed,
and that where I was headed might not be where I actually wanted to end up.
Maybe in your action you transformed into other something
Than the person I knew,
The person whose actions I maybe could have predicted,
And by the slight alteration of one dimension, became a different
Throw on a coat and you look like a different person,
Throw down an action and you are a different person,
A person I don't know and maybe a person I don't hope to know,
And a person I'm afraid to see and a person I might not come home for fear of seeing,
And a person who acted on my reactions, and a person who acted sometimes
like the person I wanted to be in love with.
And the person who I fell in love with,
who you have sometimes been.
Sometimes I talk as if I do not know you,
as if I don't know a thing about your past
and as if I don't remember the version of you I knew so well, so recently.
I talk as if you were the same person as any other person who leaves me behind,
someone I could toss insults at,
someone I'd have the gall to hate.
Part of you is still me,
And part of me sometimes wants to ask,
should you ever reappear in some hall,
"But why is that you?"