You look like her.

They say she has a habit of hanging out in abandoned churches,

weaving through broken pews and stepping over tattered hymn books

and leaving bits and pieces of her past in her wake.

She weeps

begging a god she never believed was there for forgiveness.


She haunts locker 347 on the north side. 

My locker. 

They say it was her locker, too.

I can see the faint outline of slurs

scratched into the paint

all those years ago. 

The paint has been redone many times.

The hate always resurfaces. 


Sometimes, I find letters

lovingly written on scrap paper

or torn from the pages of 

long discontinued textbooks. 

Once, a black out poem. 

We have the same initials, L.F.

It has to be a coincidence. 


My history teacher is ancient. 

He went to school with her, he says. 

(a phrase reserved for those you never spoke to, 

but passed in the halls once or twice)

He tells us the anniversary of her death is approaching,

that she hung herself in the auditorium 

sixty years ago Tuesday. 


Alumni claim she becomes violent 

on the date she took her life. 

They shake their heads and wonder why,

why she’d lay a finger on their god fearing,

gay fearing selves. 

I bite back a scoff and walk away.


It’s Tuesday. February 14th. 

(no one ever questioned why she chose that day)

I find a photograph in my locker, 


and yellowing

and covered with hate. 

Beneath the desecration, 

I make out a faded image of a girl

who looks like me.

It has to be a coincidence. 

I pocket the photograph.


My classmates ask if the ghost appeared 

by my, our, locker. 

I feel the photograph begin to freeze.

I say no, and as my classmates move away, 

disappointment etched on their faces,

it warms. 


I wait until nearly everyone has left

before I return to my locker. 

It’s hanging open

and inside I find the letters,

the pages,

the poems,

both new and old. 

I also find a girl.


Her eyes are vacant

and her skin is pale,

but when she smiles

she glows

and all I feel is warmth.

“You look like her.” 

That’s all she needs to say

and I nod in understanding. 

She reaches out to touch my face, 

and to my surprise I feel her. 

She smiles again, 

and I am struck by how similar she looks

to the girl in my grandmother’s paintings. 

It can’t be a coincidence. 

I blink, and she is gone. 


The letters 

and pages

and poems never fade. 

Neither does the photograph.

I stack them in a box, 

and hide them under my grandmother’s bed. 

If she finds them, she never tells me. 


I visit crumbling churches on free days 

in the height of winter. 

I hope to find just one more love letter,

just one more poem. 

I never do.

I hope she found forgiveness

not from a god she never believed in.

I hope she found forgiveness for herself.


This poem is about: 
My community
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