Muted Mixtape by Layla Lenhardt

That winter split me 
like firewood. I was smaller,
splintered, Elliott Smith would play 
on cassette in my blue Volkswagen
while our breath coursed 
through flared nostrils and damaged lungs. 

I hid my pain like a sick dog. I slinked
out, under the back deck, 
I swallowed some pills.
In those hideous places 
I can still smell the acrid, peaty heat 
of your breath, reeking like remorse. 

But even though you swore that you left 
I still caught you shoplifting.
Greedily, you shoved 
every broken piece of me
into your pockets.

The more you took, the more
I couldn’t help but remember you
feeding our cats, their tails licking
around your ankles like muted flames.
And now I’m jealous of people 
I don’t know. I want to be that stranger
sitting across from you on the subway.
I want to claim the dust you leave behind.

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