How to say I miss you in forty lines or less

Jay Fairbairn is in the first year of her combined honours degree in Creative Writing and English.

In blistering California summer weather,

I think of you. You wear Harvard well,

but whenever I remember you

you’re wearing fatigues and there’s dirt

on your face. You look younger now.

I won’t pretend to understand how


the desert didn’t age you, how

of all things it was always the weather

that made you smile. Even now

I think about your face when we dug that well,

grinning wide and still smeared with dirt.

It was the first time I’d ever really seen you


instead of your rank. Does it make you

sweat when you remember how

you found me once, scrabbling in the dirt

for a bomb? I could have weathered

anything but the look on your face was, well,

I remember it. Even now.


I was used to seeing you every day but now

it’s been months since I’ve seen you

face to face and, well,

it’s getting a little old. How

do you expect me to act like the weather

doesn’t make me think of you with dirt


on your face? There’s dirt

here but it’s not the same. Not now.

Days like today I just want the weather

to change. I want the rain. Didn’t you?

I don’t understand how

the sun could still make you smile as you splashed well


water on your face. Well,

I hear that you’ve washed the dirt

off your face, but really I just want to know how

often you think of the desert now

that you’re home. I wonder how

often you remember the weather.


It wasn’t all bad. I’ve distanced myself now,

from the desert. But I still think of you,

in blistering California summer weather.