Conan O’Brien

Jessica Mardian

Summer filled you with regret; maybe it was the flowers

or the rays of sun on the back porch. You prayed for me

when I was doing just fine. The cup tipped over months ago

and the water has already dried up, but you blot the floor

with a paper towel anyways. Willing me to notice,

to remember and want like you do.


“Never left good enough alone” written across your forehead.

Flipping through the late-night television and saving a bottle of wine

just in case I decide to call you: a childish way of thinking.

Lying under the ceiling fan that never stops, your skin rises to the cold.

Sound of the Atlantic rupturing your eardrums, and another glass

of ginger ale for the upset pride.


It’s not the same for you, maybe it never was —

master-of-easier-said-than-done. Unclear intentions

and the drum of half-hearted excuses slowed

my heart rate. I backed myself into a corner

on your bed. You stayed by the window,

counting the ways to hurt me with your fingers.


Come to the nights that stretched themselves thin;

the quiet in the car after a week without contact.

Our fingers laced together in a sacred loop of hope

that the other wouldn’t let go.


Maybe it was the flowers or the rays of sun

that drew regret out from your pores.

The smell of it driving you mad, pushing you

to seek comfort in what was, in me.

Too late and all too well.


Jessica Mardian is a poet and writer from Virginia. She graduated from Virginia Tech in the fall of 2020. Her work has been published in Silhouette. In 2018, she was a finalist for the Steger Poetry Prize and has read at Glossolalia Literary Festival and the Virginia Tech Creative Writing Showcase.