by James Merenda
In my hometown there is a beach full
of the children I have been, who died
clutching the farewell I wrote them,
a dearjohn for every one. They scour
the text for a hint, a subtextual thread
to prove that they, perhaps alone
survived our term together.
I am narrating when I notice
the letter in my hand. Unfamiliar
handwriting but drowsy lucidity
says it’s mine. I know but deny.
I am also an imagined
death in the catalog.
I took a name appropriate
to my exit route.
If it’s too direct
to say I killed my
then say I staged
house fires they didn’t escape,
that I played the peculiar child
waiting to be found in the backyard,
telling my parents when they ask
what I’m doing and how I got there
I’m waiting for it to be safe, pointing
to the open bedroom window.
James Merenda (they/them) is a queer & nonbinary poet and community organizer who resides in Boston, MA. They were a selected participant in Winter Tangerine’s March 2019 intensive, and their work has appeared in PANK, THRUSH Poetry Journal, and Passages North. James first poetry collection, Washed Clean of Summer’s Dust was named a finalist for YesYes Books’ 2019 Pamet River Prize. Follow them on Twitter: @james_merenda.