Best Friends

by Talya Jankovits

If I were to write you a love poem
I would start at the top of your
thighs. Slab of muscle, gallop thick
like ethereal equine, a strength
that could bruise me purple
with one quick flick of a limb.
So often next to you in a twin bed
I trembled in fear that your ballerina
feet might jolt, toss me over without effort.
If I were to write you a love poem
I would start with a milkshake.
Thick, creamy, blended atop
a caramel stained, wood kitchen counter,
large helpings of Breyers Vanilla Bean,
whole milk – our hands shivering
as they drop cubes of ice. All of it
crushed, rushed together in
synchrony. With one or two drops
of blue or green food coloring,
we dyed it new. Sipped it through
straws, little girl cackles as we
insisted it was witch’s brew.
Little weirdos being a little weird.
If I were to write you a love poem
I would start with chocolate cake.
Rich, heavy and sweet, always from
Schwartz’s bakery on Fairfax, kept
inside a pink box and tied with white
string. Kosher like the pizza from
the shop with a giant round world,
a slice separated from it. I didn’t know
your friends, but no one seemed
to notice the kosher cake, or that you
sat next to me the whole time,
held my hand at the roller skating
party. Both our hair long
and dark and infinite.
If I were to write you a love poem
I would start with your bedroom window
which I could see from our dining room.
A light on did not always mean you were awake
but we had our codes, like when you called
the fax machine in my room. Ring twice,
hang up and ring again. I would run to answer,
talk to you beneath the ceiling of plastic stars
that glowed above me each night, each one
a painful stretch of our small girl bodies
to secure them. When stars fall, they become
meteors. Unstoppable light.
If I were to write you a love poem
I would start with I’m sorry. Little
girls say stupid things and feel
big sloppy, messy feelings that might
wreck a friendship— wreck a person.
I should have been the first you told, but
I was one of the last and I can’t even blame
you. I was angry because I didn’t know. I was
angry because I made it that you
couldn’t tell me.
If I were to write you a love poem,
I would start with Facebook, where I learned
you no longer dance, that you are handy
and live with your wife in a house in northern
California with a spectacular view,
that your hair is not long anymore.
Neither is mine. But we are still infinite.

Talya Jankovits’ work has appeared in a number of literary journals. Her short story “Undone” in Lunch Ticket and her poem, My Father Is A Psychologist in BigCityLit, were both nominated for a Pushcart prize. Her micro piece, “Bus Stop in Morning” is a winner of one of Beyond Words Magazine’s, 250-word challenges. Her poem, A Woman of Valor, was featured in the 2019/2020 Eshet Hayil exhibit at Hebrew Union College Los Angeles. She holds her MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University and resides in Chicago with her husband and four daughters.

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