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We gave each other many things
but I was very clear:
if we ever broke up
you would return nothing
except the Pablo Neruda books of poems
because they were rare
and couldn’t be replaced.

They were the first thing you put on my hands
when you made your decision to say—
the word you could not say—
(Neruda made it easier for you
by paving the way).

The love was perfect
but the time was terrible,
you said.
You said you and I were like a candle
broken in two
that can someday be melted into one again.

So I told you, keep Neruda
as a symbol of that second chance
hold on to them
for me
as a reminder of the hope
you’re leaving me with
and return them only if
(God forbid)
you find someone who can take my place.

But you said no.
You wouldn’t give me even that
no security blankets,
no breakup training wheels,
no panic buttons
to keep me hanging on
or protect me from the cold,
cold world.

You’re truly free now
and so am I

Neruda is back on my shelf
and you are out of my life