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An antidote to Valentine's Day: A poem from Jennifer Hurley

Our Breakup
by Jennifer Hurley

The afternoon air smells of summer rain, almost
overpowering the reek of bacon and onion fried
early for the German potato salad that you love.

I cook in the morning so the flavors will
grow more distinct after having time to settle
and melt into each other how we once did.

We once did.

Before disappearing for work you used to leave
notes under your coffee mug, the paper stained
brown from little spills—a watercolor

of a white-spotted deer’s hide. I always imagined
a fawn, your handwritten words crossed legs
standing for the first time, clumsy wobbly.

But last night when I tried to care for you,
checked mangy fur for ticks and signs of other
disease, your natural camouflage soon hid you

in a thick part of the forest, a forest I continue
to search, now falling asleep cold alone in a pile
of knotty pine branches and slippery sodden leaves.

Bio: Jennifer Hurley received an M.A. in Liberal Studies, Concentration: English, from Valparaiso University. She currently teaches English at Valparaiso High School. Her poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared in various literary publications, including The Cresset, Etchings, Plath Profiles (multiple issues), and Valparaiso Poetry Review.