When They Leave You

It’s like a runny nose
waking you in the middle of the night
from dreams of dark water 
warm in your lungs before you could
wash onto shore. You wipe your face,
smear the thick snot, drift back to
R.E.M. to see if the story can ever change.
When you do wake it’s to the smell of pennies
and what sounds like brittle maple leaves,
see a now russet-blonde curl lying
in a hardened swirl. 
It crunches when you pinch it.
Rose petals pattern the pillowcase, 
darkened around the edges
from hours wilting. Dried blood cakes
into the back of the hand like an
interstate road map you never needed
because you knew that you’d always stay.
You managed the stains as best as you could,
but they’re still shadows on the sheets
Some days you glance in the mirror
and even your tear streaks reflect red.
When you sniffle you swear
that you smell iron. 

By Sammy Massimino