Man and Wife

by Isabella Jiang

“Promise not to promise anymore” –The Chain, Ingrid Michaelson

The other morning,

woke up, nose-to-nose with your smiling
face of a crumpled pillow, a
crumpled up excuse, crumpled up
compensation won’t compensate for
your bleak, wintry absence—it chills me to the
bone, brittle bone, hollow bone, I hear whispers—they’re lies, the whispers, they’re lies,
your vows
reverberate in other hollow places.

The polished cedar veneer
cracked just yesterday, a widow’s web
not by winter’s bestial winds nor
pressure, I don’t know, but I left you
dinner and the gold band I keep forgetting in a plastic bag.

You ought to know,

I didn’t need to graduate to know honeysuckle
will grow in the bleakest of winters, thrive
on the collars of pressed eggshell shirts
alongside patches of geranium and scarlet,
lipstick I don’t wear.

It’s raining now,

ashes of a drippy pen, dripping faucet, dripping past dripping
down the drain, ripping down the seams of
cold, flimsy paper, hard words are bitter pills I can’t

swallow so they’re written,
ripping down the seams and then peels of a place in me, all hollowed out and eaten from within.

I’ve become a conservationist;

(won’t waste a drop of saltwater, and)
peels go in the compost bin,
buried and hidden and if I can’t see it, and you can’t either, is it
really there? Plastic
gets recycled,
with the brown bottles dry and empty like a
promise or an age-old atom.

Isabella Jiang is a high school student in New Jersey. Her poetry has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. When she isn’t writing poetry, she enjoys baking bland food, debating, mathing, and laughing to herself about memes.