Do you remember how we took your faded black Ford SUV with its cracked leather seats and cigarette smell to the river, you setting the cruise control fifteen over the speed limit before pulling your feet up and sitting cross-legged in the driver’s seat? Do you remember how we sat on the shoreline with our shoes off and our flared jeans rolled up, passing a bottle of stolen wine between us? What about the time we tried sneaking into a bar on Hamilton called The Star with the same ID, you going in first, then handing me the license out the bathroom window? Or when we were nineteen and a girl told you she liked you, but you said if you liked girls you’d rather be with me instead? How do I know so little about your life after almost two decades have passed? What more could I have done for you way back then, when you were already high off fentanyl patches and stealing from your mother’s purse? If you ever stole from me, I didn’t notice. Maybe if I’d taken your face in my hands and kissed you on the forehead, like a child. Maybe if I’d chained my wrist to yours so that if you were going to use, you’d at least have a witness. Maybe if you weren’t so far away. Does it matter that I miss you now as I’m driving towards our hometown, heavy with grief and something else, something like longing?
Janelle Cordero is an interdisciplinary artist and educator living in Spokane, WA. Her writing has been published in dozens of literary journals, including Harpur Palate, Hobart and North Dakota Quarterly, while her paintings have been featured in venues throughout the Pacific Northwest. Janelle is the author of four books of poetry: Impossible Years (V.A. Press, 2022), Many Types of Wildflowers (V.A. Press, 2020), Woke to Birds (V.A. Press, 2019) and Two Cups of Tomatoes (P.W.P. Press, 2015). Stay connected with Janelle’s work at www.janellecordero.com and follow her on Instagram @janelle_v_cordero.