Matthew Feinstein – Love Starts With You

Heart Shaped Note

For my sister

I flip through past pictures—back when image didn’t matter

as much. I’m making a funny face while she

frowns. What has changed since we’ve been to college? the room

we live in? The city? The friends? Her roommate knocks on her door

but she wishes someone else would answer—a boy to love

perhaps. She’s sick of me asking Why don’t you

Download Tinder? It’ll help you

find a date. She’d say Doesn’t matter

what I do. She needs to practice self-love.

I pull another photo out—in this one she

is smiling—did a boy knock on her door

and compliment her? Her room

is intimidating. Now I’m in front of her room

and notice a sign that reads You

Got This taped to her door.

I think it should read You Matter

instead, so she

can be reminded to love

herself or at least love

her curves and her slight slouch. The room

is cluttered—I’m here to check if she

is doing okay. My words misstep and she screams You

can’t understand—no matter

how many times you knock on my door

and ask me how I’m doing! I leave, she slams door.

If only she knew my failed attempts at love—

how I’ve slept with many women, but I don’t matter

to them before entering their room.

I want to scream through the wall. Others’ affection won’t help you

be okay with yourself! I’m about to leave, and She

whispers I’m sorry. Then she

slides a note under the door.

I’m still upset, but I manage a Thank you.

Glancing at its pink construction paper frame—reads Love

Yourself. That’s close enough— as I retreat to my room,

clinging to it. How did she know? Doesn’t matter

because she must truly love

me. I knock on her door once more—enter her room,

and with wobbly breath, remind her You Matter.


Matthew Feinstein is a twenty-two-year-old neurodivergent poet who recently graduated from California State University Long Beach with his BA in English Creative Writing. He published a Micro Chap titled ‘Lemon Law’ (Origami Poems Project) which delves into the struggles that come with having Autism Spectrum Disorder. His work has also appeared in The Write Launch and Inky Squib: A Butte College Student Literary Journal and has work forthcoming from Cathexis Northwest Press.

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