Sleepaway Slips Away

by Paola Lopez Sauri

The afternoon wind cradles the dust

unearthed by turning tires.

Whimpers pierce my ears

like needles at summer camp.

I don’t want to listen, don’t want to hear


someone else’s goodbyes.

I spot you through the window:

walking near our cabin,

your mother’s arm around your shoulders,

the August clouds clearing above you.

But I turn away


and try to picture

the skies, those persimmon skies,

that ignited the freckles

between your eyes,

and kindled each strand

of your lopsided curls –


the ones I’d always pull

just to see them bounce

when we hid behind the cafeteria

from the other girls.

Oh, your hair was always so red,


redder than your contraband lipstick,

the one we shared in secret,

my beating heart the only witness,


redder than your cheeks

when I caught you looking at me

tanning on the lake beach,


redder than my eyes

as the car drives away from you

and I wonder


if I will ever see you again.