Every Poem Used To Be a Love Letter

Ainslie Campbell, University of Wisconsin-Madison

No, not tonight. Tonight feels
too lonely, and the streetlights
are too orange. Too much dirty laundry
lies in crumpled heaps,
her cotton underwear
with the elastic poking out.
A three day old coffee cup
leaves a sticky dark ring
on the bedside table.
Cracked dishes stack precariously
upon each other like small piles
of bird bones.
Everything feels too thick tonight.
She is like old molasses,
slow and hesitant.

Her spine curves away from him
like a parenthesis. The salted waves
of winter have made her skin
into dry paper, and she
hopes he’s afraid to touch her
for fear of watching her disintegrate.
She can taste stale artificial banana
in her mouth. A yellow LaffyTaffy melts
inelegantly in its shiny wrapper,
next to the coffee cup.

She says maybe tomorrow.
Tomorrow her peach hips may smirk
at his aching please please please grace,
but tonight, the alarm clock blinks red over
and over again, and canyons bloom
like wounds between their bodies.

Ainslie Campbell is a fourth year university student at University of Wisconsin-Madison. Graduating in May 2015, Ainslie hopes to move to the east coast and either get involved in women’s rights groups, or become an book editor at a publishing company. She loves gardening, World War I zmemoirs, and cooking, working in three different restaurants and bakeries in the last 5 years. Growing up in small-town Minnesota allowed Ainslie to experience her youth in ways that have since then translated into her poetry, through her experiences with relationships, friendships, and struggling for validation.

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