I call a friend I haven’t seen in a while
and she asks me if the pills are working.
I tell her I’m not happier
but I think I am less inclined
to kill myself, and she says that’s good
in a voice that sounds like hospital lights.
We used to fall asleep so tightly
wound around one another
that our heartbeats matched,
but now we settle for me being alive.
I am not sure which secrets
I’m supposed to take with me to the grave,
if at the end it will matter to weigh
all those whispered words in my palms,
the hot shame of a season spent
kissing a stranger
or the small world I crafted on weekends
and in the summer months
with the woman I thought I would marry
a spectrum of imaginary characters
we voiced and loved and cried for.
There is a cadence to growing older
that I have only just started to learn.
It’s a song we are already half-sick of,
the tune that plays on the radio
of every road trip, windows rolled down,
all of us singing along and off-key
fumbling the time
knowing at the end it doesn’t matter
so long as we move our lips to the notes at all.
Cara Neel is the youngest of three daughters and the tallest woman in her entire extended family. Nearly every job she has ever held involved talking to strangers about odd and uncomfortable topics. Born in Massachusetts, she has lived in Toronto, Montreal, San Francisco, and can currently be found in New York City. She writes poetry to try and reconcile her sense of home and to give voice to queer love and romance in both their simplest and more complex forms.