“Long Distance”

I get his text in the middle of the day

between ignoring looming paper deadlines

and watching my best friend rant. It’s the

first sign of life from him in over a month

and the messages reads a simple “Sup.”

S—soft and hissing, ice creaking in a glacier.

U—low in the tongue, a half melted Popsicle stick.

P—a pop of the lips, bubbles breaking under ice.

I don’t know how to respond, because what do you say

to someone who professes adoration yet

Forgets your birthday? A smiley face?

A rant, a screaming match boiling over

with tear-stained vowels and bitten consonants?

Maybe once upon a time ago, when we loved

with white-hot passion. Maybe once in another life

when the distance between us didn’t trigger an

ice age. But that’s not us anymore, we are

promised to this ice, and we blow annual kisses

over the icebergs growing between us

snowflakes buzzing with electronic tones.

I wonder for half a moment to just not reply

or to break the ice and break us apart.

He follows up with a “How are you today”.

No questions needed because in the end

my reply is always the same: “I’m fine”.

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Devyn Hamberlin is an undergraduate student at UC Riverside.

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