Poem: The Promise

This poem is a work in progress. At the time that I drafted it, back when I was a senior at USC, I started with a vague idea of what it may be like for the narrator to see the girl he pines for in love with someone else and I wanted to explore that from his perspective. The Promise has undergone multiple revisions, and while there is a lot that I think can be done to improve it, especially in terms of that narrative arc I just mentioned, this is how the poem has taken shape so far.

3I am haunted by the memory of her kiss
The one she should have never given me

I remember the way her cheeks burned with color
And the tortured look she gave me—it was a mistake

I carved into memory that night
The shape of her cupids bow above red lips

I remember her subtlest movements
And the feel of her hair between my fingertips

I memorized the touch of her breath
The way it caressed my skin

I remember that night she went back to him
And my promise that he would never know

I anguished at the sight of her with him
The pain of it numbingly cold

I remember that night he had too much to drink
And the sharp sting of his fist on my face

I thanked God that I was there to absorb
The hate—unbridled—meant for her

I remember the way she cried in my arms
And the heat of her tears burning against my cheek

I thought—maybe—she wouldn’t forgive him
The prospect all-consuming

I remember feeling dead when she did
And the way his arms coiled around her in victory

I felt betrayed when she told me to stay away
The notion of it—absurd—cruel

I remember her smell—the taste of her lips
And I can still hear her laugh if I try

But I remember my promise to her
And I live the agony to keep it

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