Matthew Carlin

AFTER GRADUATION

In a history textbook you inherited from your brother,
his neat handwriting reads: If you keep something like love a secret,
it can make you sick. You recognize this line from a movie,
but take it as a personal message from him anyway.
You tell yourself you’re not in love, and it’s true,

but at the party, you can’t help but imagine classmates having sex
in the upstairs bedrooms. You imagine all the walls tagged
with lyrics and long, winding love letters, as though everyone
is feeling the same thing, the future rioting in your bodies.
On the grand balcony, you watch the sunrise with people

already becoming strangers. The light is not baffling the way
an end should feel, but like a small ache, a small window to escape
from and keep running. You wake to the sound of your brother
pulling in from another night shift, his car shaking with bass.
It’s September. You touch your body, a language crashing into itself.

Matthew Carlin is a poet from Auburn, California. He earned his BA from William Jessup University and is currently completing his MFA at the University of Pittsburgh. His work has appeared in Metonym and Pittsburgh Poetry Review.




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