Why did you say you’d cook me kale seventeen different ways? Why did you jump up and down and extend your arms to embrace me at the smoky bar—the one where the rock music drowned out the poetry readers? Why did you place your jacket around my shoulders as we walked upstream alongside the river? Why did you repeatedly tell me that your heart exploded when you saw me? Why did you think you looked less tortured? Why did you walk around to the back of your house without telling me you were home? Why did you watch the red-headed woodpeckers in your backyard and sip from a can of Coca-Cola, but never asked me if I could hear the drumming nor if I wanted anything to drink? Why was your fridge empty? Why did you drone on about her while walking, sitting, and lying next to me? Why did you contort yourself to get her back, but didn’t turn when I left? Why did you ask to join me if you were always quick to disappear? Why did you ignore me at the reception? Why did you invite me for a late-night drink only to show up with a doting girl? Why did you leave with her at midnight while our friends studied my reaction? Why did you get angry at me for getting angry at you? Why did you say that you were about to be who I had been hoping? Why did you say you had been waiting for me to rouse your feelings? Why did you linger in the morning after hurling hurtful words at me all night? Why did you stay? Why did I let you?

Marilyn Duarte holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Tampa. Her work has appeared in The Tishman ReviewEllipsis Zine, Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies, and elsewhere. She is currently a CNF Contributing Editor at Barren Magazine. Originally from Toronto, she now divides her time between Canada and Portugal. She can be found online at and on Twitter at @MareDuarte28.

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