All I Have Left

All I Have Left, Dina L. Relles

Dina L. Relles

A Polaroid of my childhood home.
       split-level, screen door open

A single square of the blanket I was given at birth.
       red and white gingham with tiny green leaves

A list of wishes written on yellow paper at summer camp when I was 14.
       to love only one person
       to be happy alone

Precise directions from Penn Station to my high school boyfriend’s apartment.
       Pick up the M4 bus halfway down the street (there will be a deli on the right).

A printout of an AOL Instant Messenger exchange.
       If, even after it ends, the friendship remains, protect that.

A rehearsed long-distance confession, scrawled in thick green marker.
       Oh, and by the way—I’m still in love with you.

A transcript of the last talk with my grandfather in the days before he died.
       It’s time. I think it’s time.

A pink Post-it note to the boy who wrote a poem titled “To the many women in my life, especially Dina.”
       I have this fear that you do this with everyone. Is this really as special as I think?

The words to Simon & Garfunkel’s Bookends, emailed the night before graduation.
       preserve your memories / they’re all that’s left you

An old horoscope.
       You are extremely sentimental about the past and rarely discard old friendships.

A high school teacher’s handwritten inscription in a pocket copy of Garrison Keillor’s Truckstop and Other Lake Wobegon Stories.
       May you remain as open and alive to the world as you are today.

The burgundy apron from the waitressing gig where I worked the early shift.
       Flip the placard to OPEN, put up the first pot of coffee.

A note passed in philosophy class.
       My right ear is fixed on whatever sound you make in the hope that one of your
       movements will bring you closer to me.

Or carried through the mail.
       I tried to hold you so tight, I’d never let you go. It didn’t work.

A paper menu from a date at the diner.
       Friendly’s off Smithfield Road, North Providence

Jottings on jagged-edged paper to the boy who broke my heart.
       You tamed me.

The key pouch for the room on campus where we made love.
       Grad Center 421B

A list of memories handed to me on our last night.
       sitting on telephone books on the fourth story fire escape
       trying to get to the river

Mix tape liner notes from after he left.
       With or Without You
       The Sweetest Thing

A letter never sent.
       I hope we always know each other.

One from my father.
       the elusive butterfly of love

And my mother.
       Being too boy crazy doesn’t make for a well-rounded person, does it?

From one old love.
       I’m sorry for leaving.

Or another.
       Some part of me will always love you.

From a new friend.
       I think we’re all longing for something.

And from the oldest.
       I have quietly harbored feelings for you for quite a while now.

A pamphlet from St. Paul’s Cathedral.
       Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask thee to stay
       Close by me forever, and love me I pray

Journal entry, October 2003.
       The problem is I’ve always been able to love two or more people at a time.

A lyric in yellow ink on a wedding invitation.
       Can you imagine us years from today,
       Sharing a park bench quietly?

The hospital bracelet from birthing my firstborn.
       baby boy of Dina Relles

And a Mother’s Day card from him years later.
       You’re unique to me, even if you don’t know it.

The first draft of a chapter’s last line.
       To love is to long for something lost or left behind.


Dina L. Relles lives and writes in rural Pennsylvania. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, Atticus Review, matchbook, Paper Darts, CHEAP POP, Barrelhouse online, and River Teeth, among others, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is a prose poetry reader at Pithead Chapel and penning her first book—a memoir in micro-prose. Find her at or @DinaLRelles.

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