On Waking Up Alone
you will wake before the sun
and the sky will be an underwater blue
when there is light out at the edges of the world.
Your room is so cold
that you will wake with your hands and toes curled.
If your lover is there,
and bend back into him
so your bodies trick
the blankets into turning warm again.
In the dark,
memorize the valley between his lips
so he will pull you closer
even while his mind is far away in sleep.
But when you wake up alone,
with one side of the bed still and cold
and the other
warm from the way your blood beats against your veins,
pull your legs from beneath the sheets
and let your skin prickle
on contact with the air.
On those days
in the dark, stretch your fingers out
and feel the way the air is empty
and full of your breath.
Uncurl your toes and dig
them into the carpet.
Pull the blinds so that rim of light along the horizon
will slip in and wake the hairs along your arms—
there is beauty in one heartbeat,
in watching the world come alive again.
Black night was leaking into the sky and bringing out the stars,
and we thought we’d find where we were
somewhere on the map
that you’d picked up with the coffee and tea,
from a dirty roadside pastry shop.
But places change when you’ve been gone—
coffee is bleeding out across the map.
The house was big—from what you could remember—
silver trays where your mother kept the china,
so many doors to lock behind the sounds
of your father’s suitcases on the tile, the sound
of your own feet slamming out the door.
A barn, or that road bridging rivers reflecting the stars—
you thought they’d all belonged to you once,
felt your footprints in their dust,
but really, it was just that stretch of Ohio
that looks like everywhere else, where houses are built to die
and cows sleep soundly under the moon.
And when I gave in, and finally let you drive,
your coffee fingers in my hair and your lips
whispering radio sounds—U2 for the thousandth time—
you found a familiar bank of lake, pulled weary tires to the edge
and parked on the shore—water lapping the long-rusted bumper.
The driver door creaked open
and, as we unstuck our legs from the worn leather seats,
you pulled off your clothes
and left them scattered in the sand.
I followed you into the night water,
feeling car sweat licked from my skin, water weeds clutching my legs
like desperate fingers.
One of your hands sent chills into my curling toes, while the other dripped in the moonlight,
pointing to a boat long lost in the reeds—you said it was your father’s,
you said your mother used to smile in it, water drying in her sunlit hair.
Miranda Romano is currently studying Professional Writing & Rhetoric and Creative Writing at Elon University. After graduating, she plans on finding a job that will support her and her diva of a cat. Her friends, and probably strangers too, accuse her of wearing too much floral. A professor once said that her poetry is very rich, playful, passionate, sensory, emotional and powerful and she likes to think that this describes her personality as well. She’s flattered that you took the time to read her work.