everyone i’ve ever drank with and i
are at a party together and someone
has already made punch and someone
is lining up shots and my friends and i
are all flirting with sobriety i mean
my friends and i are all playing hard to
keep with our stomachs i mean my|
friends and i all came to this party with
our fingers crossed in our pockets like
maybe the punch wouldn’t flirt back like
maybe the shots wouldn’t smell so
serenade like maybe my brass-band
chest wouldn’t beg so goddamn loud
to be quieted and afloat and someone
offers me a drink and i am fifteen and
stumbling into marching band practice or
i am seventeen and i am playing a game
called “maybe i won’t wake up” or i am
nineteen and when i am offered a shot
i don’t say no loud enough so i am twenty
and i say yes and i say yes and i say yes and
all my friends say yes / or, all my friends say no
and their mouths water and their chests bang
and it sounds like a lie and i don’t want
to be a liar but maybe if my friends and i
all tell the same lie enough it becomes the
truth. i mean we all came to this party to
stare-contest the bathroom mirror. press
our fists on either side of the sink and
talk a mercy-killing out of ourselves.
once, you thought you drowned a kid
you were teaching how to do handstands
in the deepest part of the glass. but
they’ve been floating up against your
surface this whole time, damp and holding
goggles for you. this is what you look like
when your name sounds quiet again. and
your friends put all of their hands on the
bathroom door and hum until there isn’t
a party, and you take the goggles and
you open the door and you aren’t a liar.


– Linette Reeman