I’m at the vet with my roommate while her cat is dying behind a few sets of closed doors, & I notice the purple paint on my flip-flops, which has not faded, which I’m looking down at because this is just too sad. I have nowhere to look but down. It’s avoidance. It’s reverence. It’s something else entirely. The paint is the one you chose for the bathroom in the apartment we last lived in together. I painted that entire apartment because you were teaching summer school. Except for the bathroom. You painted the bathroom. It was a Saturday. You were painting the bathroom that purple while I was writing poems about how sad we’d become. How we began to turn on the TV during dinner & wear sports bras to bed. There’s this way you stop & start missing something at the exact same moment. Scratching the paint off my flip-flops with my keys does no good. My roommate’s cat is still dying & my roommate will still chain-smoke on the bench outside when it’s over, while we choke on our memories of Kiddo, & I will always know where the paint was. We held on tight but these soft girl hands burned & burned.

Image credit:Daniel Vargas

Lisa Summe was born and raised in Cincinnati, OH, earned a BA and MA in literature at the University of Cincinnati, and an MFA in poetry from Virginia Tech. Her poems have appeared in Juked, bedfellows, Waxwing, Salt Hill, and elsewhere. Her first book, Say It Hurts, is forthcoming from YesYes Books in June 2020. You can find her running, playing baseball, or eating vegan pastries in Pittsburgh, PA and on Instagram and Twitter @lisasumme.