by Carla Criscuolo

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When you want to die you grow
your hair long - chestnut waves
with glints of autumnal red,
the shade that covers Central Park
in September. You weave
a noose of silky tendrils,
around your tender Adam’s Apple
with a dramatic flare honed by
years of acting classes, and toss
the loose end over your shoulder
as if it were a cape, a flag to trail
behind you; an embalm signifying
allegiance to that which is beyond
you; a brake light fading in and out,
playing peek-a-boo with
the headlights in your rear view
that keep asking you to pull over,
every burst of acceleration
evidence of a truth you can’t
admit – that these gestures are
not for you, but for us.
For your best friend from
fourth grade who grew up
swinging imaginary swords
and beheading dragons
by your side; for your mother
with her stained and misshapen
dishrags always hung over
each shoulder, just in case; me
and my overdeveloped sense of
loyalty, still holding on to
the tenuous belief that you might
be able to care for me the way
I care for you. We all try to
catch you before you slam
head first into an Oak,
or set yourself swinging from
one of its low hanging limbs.
We are the safety net you say
you don’t need, the only thing
reminding you, you are valued
beyond your long hair, charcoal lined
eyes, and ability to crack
a joke.

Carla Criscuolo has spent her entire life in New York City. Among other places, her poetry has appeared in The Orange Room Review and The Blue Jew Yorker.

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