Rob Colgate is a Filipino-American poet from Evanston, IL. He holds a degree in psychology from Yale University and is currently pursuing his MFA in poetry with the New Writers Project at UT Austin, where he serves as the nonfiction editor for Bat City Review and is working towards a certificate in critical disability studies. His work is featured in Best New Poets 2020; his first chapbook, So Dark the Gap, was published by Tammy in March 2020 and won the 2020 ReadsRainbow Prize for poetry. You can find him at robcolgate.com.
Remember These Tulips
After Sylvia Plath
Back when things were good
between us, Finn, I would fall
asleep dreaming of my own future anxiety
and how I would be able to text you:
Hey, tonight is really bad— can I come over?
And you would say yes and I would come
over and we would be overwhelmingly
together, our bodies made tangible
by the activated sprinklers in the field.
But tonight I cannot find
even a single vein in these petals.
Do you want me in your blood or not?
You were so happy. I did that.
I only have a future because you
once told me that I do.
You would always promise
a silly dance together, a joke that would
never end. Now—so many leftover lentils.
So I keep myself busy. I count the ways
the light lies on your sweatshirt
draped over the porch banister. I open
and close every book, every draft, every video
of every boy who is happier
and less anxious than me.
I never wanted to distract myself. I only wanted
to lay with you with my shame half-open.
But your driveway was too open. I swerved
around each handful of rice you spilled.
You were the one who filled my tank with gas,
who smeared my inclination towards you with light.
I have never been so absent.
I think I am in love but am asymptomatic.
Every night I slept next to you
I dreamt of you anyway.
REM, why couldn’t we save that?
He’s gone now.
Promises made in the context of time
are not promises. They are small hooks
that catch on your skin. They are too bright
in the first place. I am so hungry
and you ate all my purple yams.
I need to call home. I miss Rob.
You are the greyhound I always bet on
and you are the bus that never comes.
I will use my propensity for delusion to believe
that I do not miss you, that you are coming back,
that we are at the museum together
and the two of us become an exhibit.
Glass case, be small enough
so my shoulder touches his.
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