Tally Marks

I’m the type to keep tally marks on my chest for all the times I’ve said “I love you.” I’m the girl who seems barricaded into herself until the right person comes along and simply knocks on the door. My heart beats in rhythm with nature. My inked fingers drum on every surface, waiting, working to keep my patience from escaping me. I write poems to the solar systems, and I write poems to you.

Sometimes, I fold them up into little paper airplanes and set them free over the Wabash. They always take crash landings, the ink bleeding into itself as it floats away in the current. Sometimes, when the words are mostly right, I tuck them into envelopes and bury them in a desk drawer. I’m still hoping that they’ll one day find the courage to end up in your mailbox. No luck so far. I just can’t bring myself to send anything that’s less than perfect. And I just can’t seem to ever get it perfect.

The words fall heaviest when I knowingly use the wrong ones. I’ll say “thank you” knowing that it isn’t enough, or “I miss you” knowing that there are no words at all for that feeling of needing you. I’ve written the words “I love you” thousands of different ways, and that’s how I practice saying them. Drive safe. Sleep well. You’re the best. I’m yours. Come over. Don’t go. Please stay. I don’t want to be without you.

I’m the type to keep tally marks on my chest for all the times I’ve said “I love you.” Sternum scars and secrets, hidden in plain sight on the surface. Someday I’ll find a way to show you. Someday you’ll watch me draw that first line. And from that point on, that blank canvas will be covered with your name.

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