ever since I was young,
taking care of women was ground into me
the same way my grandmother would grind grains
And I grew up that way,
knowing that though I wasn't the most
I knew how to be gentle,
how to not make girls cry.
So when you called me that night
from the bar, where you had found
my number hidden in the folds of your friend's coat,
I knew I had to find you.
It was snowing softly when I left,
the ground sheathed in ice.
I found you, huddled outside the pub,
cigarette dangling from blue lips,
neck, covered in bruises.
On closer inspection, I realized they were hickeys.
"Some jerk tried to kiss me."
you slurred, and swayed,
golden hair, strewn in undone curls about your shoulders,
make-up smudged about your face.
I took the smoke from your frozen fingers,
and put my arm around your waist.
You buried your face in my shoulder and sobbed.
Later, as you lay on my couch,
sipping the water I fed you,
singing nonsensically to yourself,
while I stirred spaghetti in a pot,
you told me your life story.
How, you, a west-coast girl,
on a whim to escape a dying relationship
chose to leave
without knowing what you would meet.
You told me how much you loved it here,
the people and the University,
but also how homesick you were.
I told you jokes, you thrived off my laughter,
and when a smile finally cracked your face,
I realized I'd seen you before.
There, in the early morning at the cafeteria,
sipping a coffee, pensively reading a book,
always in a dress, always well put together,
now, a hot mess on my couch,
the bare white of your breasts peeking out through your shirt,
you said "I feel like I'm slipping off the edge."
I gave you a hug, and said I'd walk you to your room
if you promised to stop smoking for a week.
Even if you hadn't agreed, I still would have gone.
I would have carried you.
Across the snow, you told me you were a writer,
that you wrote poetry.
I asked you to someday read something to me.
You smiled, and called back as you walked up the stairs
"Someday, I'll write something for you."