My Old Friend

by Sami Bennett

a poem

You were with me as I drove away from home
You were with me the day he asked me out
You were with me as I paved my way
through empty dorm hallways looking for friends
as I showed silly videos and stood on my head
in hopes that someone would scoop me up and whisper in my ear
“You belong here.”

You were still with me, old friend,
even as your gaze drifted away
You have become a part of me,
giving me advice,
kicking me when I say something stupid
reminding me of loss and hurt when I am overconfident
You are with me as I explore the lost corners of the world
while America plays with the same TV show, but now in a different shade of fear
Old friend, I cannot go back
this was one thing I could not agree with you on
I loved you, old friend,
and put up with your sharp words when you were hurt
until I noticed we were no longer friends

but two people trying to hold on to a fraying past
But even past all that
You are still with me
the bright lion that bit my hand but also taught me how to roar
“You deserve this,” you said to me
squealing with glee
when I told you
about my third kiss
the first one that stuck
while the knots in my stomach untied
loosened by your encouragement
You deserve this, too, old friend.