The Indicator x The Student: “This place and the other”

In this poem originally published in the Fall 2023 edition of The Indicator, Madi Suh ’26 examines the modes and memories of a love gone wrong.

The Indicator x The Student: “This place and the other”
Madi Suh ’26 reflects on the complex experience of a relationship’s dissolution. Photo courtesy of Tiia McKinney ’25.

It was on the corner of Wilder on the way to the 7-Eleven

   that you first stopped me in my tracks, and I didn’t notice

the car that would have killed me zipping past until after

      you grabbed my arm, my ankle rolled and I fell

for the first time, beginning an endless cycle

         of falling and picking myself

                  back up again.

Who it is that spins

      the gyre, riding the Zipper at the carnival fair,

   splattering lights everywhere, your smile upside

         down, your voice loud and then turning

around, saying that you loved me,

               you loved me.

And when we came back

to Earth you bought a pint

of vanilla ice cream and I told you

to get another and we ate half of it outside

the chapel where I once thought we

      might get married someday and you kissed me

and saved the other half for another day and forgot

               about it and it melted away.

Was that the same night we trekked up Rocky Hill in the rain?

The night the stars went to hide and you

told me to close my eyes and to dream not of this place

but the other, the one where we said someday, we would have

   our own dog too, perhaps a cat, heck, make it a whole zoo,

      of animals we could never take care of.

You had a lifelong dream in which you held me in every

   shirt that I ever owned, I had a drawer full of someday, someday

we would get the hell out of this paradise called

   home, oh someday once meant that

   I would wear these sweaters and you would wear

those jeans and I would forgive the things you swear you didn’t

mean but tell me, was that the night you cradled

   my head and its dreams in your lap and asked me if

      I could see the stars and I said yes,

                     yes I can —

But perhaps what I really mean to ask is do you remember

   if it was my left ankle I rolled or the other, were the lights

black and white or in color, was it that night

             or the other, the one where your smile was

      crooked and your eyes wanted something

   mine didn’t, the night you didn’t take me home

the way you said you would, where you twisted

      my arm and watched me fall, you told me to close my eyes

   and I

let it happen, and was it vanilla I tasted on my lips or

some flavor of fucked up

Help me —

   I can’t remember

if it was raining or if

I cried, if there ever really were stars

      in my eyes.

Tonight I will keep my eyes open

   to delay the dream in which you love me

to see this place for what it is:

When I walk down Wilder and see the cars zip by

I dream not of this universe but

the other,

   where the car hits and I fall and my neck snaps clean in two,

this death and another,

            this life and each other,

   god, what

separates, this place

      and the other.