Caroline Earleywine

I Read that to Love Someone Long Term is to Attend
a Thousand Funerals of the People They Used to Be

Here lies the long-haired girl at the dive bar 
playing beer pong on the night we met, the one
who crawled into bed with me when I was sick, blamed 
food poisoning instead of me as she knelt by the toilet 

the next day. Here lies our rose-colored-glasses, our fear 
of honesty. Here lies the time she taught me to cook, 

my inexperience endearing, her guidance, welcomed. 
The sliced sweet potatoes in the pan, the way they looked 

like carrots but weren’t. Here lies the night she pressed 
me against my car and kissed me, how a man walked by
and leered at us, but she shielded me with her body 
and I’d never felt more safe. Here lies the woman 

they were, the night they shaved their head and then 
helped me shave part of mine, our bodies covered

with tiny hairs, parts of us we shed like snakeskin. 
Their new pronouns, new label—here lies my fear

that our love couldn't survive such a change. 
Here lies the day they ran through 

a field at my mother’s and it took them twenty 
damn times to fly the kite, but they never gave up—

adjusted the strings and their run and kept going 
until it flew. Here lies my doubt. Here lies

the first love poem, a seed that keeps sprouting 
into something new. Here lies every choice that led us 

here. All the selves we were, 
and the ones that have yet to bloom.

link to video 

Caroline Earleywine teaches high school English in Central Arkansas where she tries to convince teenagers that poetry is actually cool. She was a finalist for Nimrod’s 2021 Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry and has work in Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Barrelhouse, NAILED Magazine, and elsewhere. She earned her MFA from Queens University in Charlotte and lives in Little Rock with her wife and two dogs. Her chapbook, Lesbian Fashion Struggles, is out now with Sibling Rivalry Press.