Brigit Kelly Young
The missing posters must be rain-worn by now,
strewn below a tree, just staples left in bark.
You never knew me well, I know. You never showed me the creases beneath the youthful face. “I’m so young I can’t stand it!” you yelled once drunkenly, hilariously, before kissing the boys of the bar, your body draped on arms, your body there. Still there. Touched. I got to touch it. When we compared bloated period bellies and got close to a kiss and laughed at being such lesbians but not lesbians and smoked cigarettes on a balcony while we talked shit about the world and laughed at its blisters and old stories of getting high, and to be your friend just for a moment makes me know that I, too, am precious, because if I were lost even the ones who knew-me-when and fell to Facebook-only would write a poem like a mourner’s prayer on a Sabbath night, and I know now that to live is the point, to exist is the point, it’s the answer to the question that we were told just blows in the wind, and to take that life is to stop that windy answer from cooling summer days and making hurricanes.
To know your beauty was to encounter for a moment why certain sects of men believe that Jonah could live inside a whale.
At first, when you couldn’t be found, I thought you were strangled.
I thought the one who broke kittens in half at ten-years-old
finally grew up and got to you.
But you were the one who strangled.
You were the one who broke yourself.
And the rivers of upstate New York
will never be the same.
People will swim in them
and they won’t know
this water touched your body, it seeped into it
to destroy it,
just doing what you asked it to,
just listening to you and your pleas and your mistakes
and your jump.
Maybe the river cried out when you did it.
Maybe it hurt the river’s skin
in the hardest of slaps.
I only hope
we just can’t find you because
you slipped inside the mouth
of a river whale.
I am hoping the god
we were told to believe in
still works in his old ways.