205.348.7264 mfj@sa.ua.edu

Those Who’ve Loved

Caroline Clifton

He loves me.

          We were much too young to feel like that.

          Too young to understand the weight of that notion.

          But his smile,

          tentative and shaky,

          juxtaposing his sturdy shoulders and steady hands,

          told me otherwise.

He loves me not.

          I couldn’t do it.

          His off-white teeth,

          crooked and chipped from his love for soccer,

          hid away behind his lips as I told him I was afraid.

          That he moved too fast for me.

          I couldn’t get attached to his freckles like he was to my pink tints.

          I didn’t tremble with excitement when I saw him,

          and my heart didn’t flutter like his.

He loves me.

          Still too young.

          Older now, but not by much.

          Just moved up to junior high.

          God, why did he feel like that?

          Why was it towards me?

          Why do I have to look at the pale blonde curls

          and his overconfident grin that shined like the sun?

          Why do I have to be the one he fell in love with?

          Why was he determined to have me dim his shine?

He loves me not.

           I fell apart again.

           The snarky smile fell away to one that wobbled,

           and he nodded and turned his back on my stubborn refusal.

           Despite my efforts,

           his shine dimmed for several days.

           Didn’t he understand that I did it for him?

He loves me.

           Why does this keep happening?

           These lovely people–

           this one with pale pink lips and skin like porcelain–

           continue falling for someone unable of agreeing.

           I can’t keep doing this.

He loves me not.

           We haven’t spoken in days.

           It’s for him,

           I remind myself.

           Sometimes that isn’t enough.

I love her.

          She understands me.

          Green eyes sparkle with unshed tears as I bare my soul to her.

          Her smile is sad;

          I want to do anything I can to make it happy again.

          My loveless attempts at connecting before,

          all the boys whose hearts I stomped on,

          I understand them now.

          How all-encompassing this is.

          Finally, one turned into love.

She loves me not.

         Maybe I should have lied.

         Those 3 boys before,

         I should have lied to them,

         said those words back to them.

         To the first, a too-young kid overcome with puppy love for someone that talked to him.

         To the second, an overconfident shit with a light brighter than any fire.

         To the third, one of my best friends.

         Maybe if I had lied,

         I wouldn’t have to feel the shattering beneath my ribs,

         the overwhelming fire in my veins,

         and the ice that froze my consciousness.

         Is that what they felt after I refused their words?

         Maybe I do deserve this.

         If I made them feel it, I deserve to, too.

I love me not.