Loving Two People At Once Shouldn’t Be Poetry (But Somehow, It Is)



Clay Banks

You’re sitting in between two boys and you love both of them. The one on the left was the first to leave fingerprints on your throat. He has hair the color of South Carolina sand and eyes that make you think about how it must feel to drown, how it must be one of the worst possible ways to die. The one on the right was the second to arrive. He’s the love seat at your dad’s house, comfortable and familiar. He has hands that look like they could carry the couch by themselves with you sitting on top of it. You’d like to see him try.

You’re sitting in between two boys and you love both of them. You’re listening to a lecture about american fiscal policy but the only money supply you care about is the price that you’re paying by being the window that separates the boy on the left from the boy on the right. You wish you were somewhere else, on a plane headed to the Atlantic or knee-deep in dirt. You want to know what was buried underneath their feet, before all of this pain, and you’re scared to find out so you work without tools; that way it’ll take longer. Do you really want to know what’s waiting for you?

You’re sitting in between two boys and you love both of them. Here’s the joke; you don’t actually love either of them. You love the attention they’re so good at handing you. You love the way the boy on the left remembers what books you’ve been meaning to read and you love the way the boy on the right gives you nicknames. You love until your fingers bleed, until it’s a silent car at 4am just trying to get home safely. The boy on the right said he wouldn’t let anything bad happen to you. He lied. He happened to you. So did the boy on the left.

You’re sitting in between two boys and you love both of them. They look through you, the glass window in a burning room. It’s ironic that panic buttons cease to matter when everything’s already up in flames. Worrying is useless when you’ve let two things happen to you and neither of them care about burning buildings unless something that they care about is inside. So you burn.

You’re sitting in between two boys and you love both of them. The one on the left has his feet on your chair and his hands are around your neck. That was a lie. A half-truth. His hands may not be around your neck but that doesn’t stop you from choking. The one on the right is blind to the effect that the boy on the left has on you. You would call this the bystander effect if anybody had been watching you lose your breath. But they weren’t. So it isn’t.

You’re sitting in between two boys and you love both of them. The one on the left has lips that have graced the bodies of enough girls to raise up an army. You know you’ll never join the battalion but you armor up anyways. The one on the right, you’re unsure of. He’s a question mark that never stops asking. Three people in the dark fumbling for a light switch that may or may not exist, depending on the day of the week. Somebody is wearing armor. Who is wearing the armor?

You’re sitting in between two boys and you love both of them. You hate how much timing plays a role in living. You know that if you met the boy on the left in five years it would be different in the way that the movie adaptation is never quite what the novel was. Progress wouldn’t be impossible, you’d make out to Quentin Tarantino movies and listen to NPR every time you drove to the library. If you met the boy on the right in five years you’d click instantly, a lamp in a cave. a candle in a bedroom. But it’s not five years in the future. It’s now. The timing is bad. And neither of them are yours because of it.

You’re sitting in between two boys and neither of them love you. And that is the circle around your windpipe. Simultaneously the beginning and the end. TC mark



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