Through repetition, I become a master of bad habits. Ignore the omissions, time lost to promises broken or partially fulfilled. Tell myself that love is fickle – between my dedication and passion, I maintain, you will come to find a home in me. Patience is a virtue, I say to an empty room, yearning to see the shape of your lips on a Friday night.
You’re slow, you say. I assume I know what that means: slow to fall in love is something I can accept. There’s no significance in how little I know of you outside of us, you tell me. You’re just a private person, you respond, when I ask to put a picture of us in plain view. It’s not that you’re ashamed of me, no. But I still don’t know your friends, your parents. I cannot come to your apartment. Two seasons later, and I wonder if I’m your girlfriend outside the walls of my bedroom.
I lie next to you after waiting days to hear the sound of your voice, my stomach full of acid. I am not happy, I realize. I feel like my lungs will collapse. I am just so tired of bad habits, of waiting in empty rooms, of day dreaming that you will see me more than five times a month. My gut feeling, the one I’ve denied for so long, tells me that I’m less than a fraction of your life – that you’re a cheater and I’m a choice you refuse to make.
You’re not slow to fall in love. You’re slow to utter honest words, to let go of what keeps you warm. And what lies you tell her, or them, I can’t guess. But I will remember you always by those you told me. I don’t want you to be sad.
March begins with a broken heart. For a moment, I fear that this year will be the same as the last: my capacity for love will become a fire that turns my world to ash. But I’ve since learned that life is not grief or pain.
Life is how you cope with loss. To live, you let go.
Near every day
a war I lose
Closest to a truce –
a finish line,
if you will –
so came new enemies
Tired of fighting,
instead I prayed:
May I lose my life
before my teeth
May my grave be marked
not by porcelain
May the funerary makeup
be flawed for something
other than a scarlet lattice,
the white of my eyes replaced –
strands of undigested food,
my lips painted frosting blue
May death be easier than life
spent bent over my fingers clawing
deep and then deeper
along the inside of my throat –
trying to find the sound of a
girl worth saving and
failing, always failing
I put my change in a mason jar
A piece for every lie you told
Bar the most important one
In our time apart, we grew closer; words eclipsed distance faster than our feet covered ground. With each infatuation, I learn something new about myself. You taught me that love, in its infancy, is easiest when miles separate the subject from the object of a verb.
Bruises bloom in the darkest places:
A gift from my father I cannot return.
For too long, I played the contortionist, bending without breaking until I fit the shape of the scripts you provided. My existence in your life was carefully curated and intentionally finite. Amber, you were fun. You were easy. Even then, my performance was reviewed in the context of your narrative, my character some reduction of fiction designed only to advance the plot.
But no woman wants to live as someone else’s story. When I refused to be reduced, you destroyed the version of me you created. Worse, you were vindictive over my exit from the role; you made me doubt that I could live as more than just a subplot, too desperate in my need to be at the center of the tale and too broken to deserve it.
We’re both air signs, I say, expecting you to laugh. You do.
I won’t tell you that I’m trying to find direction in fiction: I’m using meanings arbitrarily assigned to planetary alignments and the quadrants traveled by Mars to better understand your gravitational pull. Part of me wants to explain to you that the stars are more accurate than you’d believe. When our constellations cross paths, we feel a validation of self, an intellectual closeness that falls short in its warmth. I’m flexible and you’re rigid. This doesn’t interfere with your needs, and only displaces one of mine, because we both share the desire to remain independent, to honor the selves we salvaged, however broken. In our friendship and moments of intimacy, we form complementary angles within the spaces we don’t already overlap.
This is a little crazy, so I know better than to tell you that astrology is my latest comfort. For me, it’s always held a place in my heart and mind as my favorite pseudoscience. Horoscopes and the compatibility of signs are also the means of turning abstract thoughts into a narrative, at least lately. Don’t worry, though. Like most things that exist between us, it’s not serious. So I just smile (as I so often do when I hear you laugh). Because even if you don’t love me, afraid to be more than water in a woman’s hands, I can’t help but share in your joy.
For a time, I embraced the
(The sounds & vibrations created
between our tongues & teeth by
flesh within flesh & nights
barely dreaming so often falling
awake to resonance of thoughts)
For a moment, I saw myself as
brave: to be so casually vulnerable,
I put away the barriers –
& so noise rushed in, provided entry,
reverberating in the hollow spaces.
After time, I asked but more often
begged: rearrange these sounds,
create a language we can share.
When I named our frequency, it was
with knowing your response:
For me, it was only meant as fun.
Some love can live only left undefined.
Given words, it loses shape –
& I call it love changes to
another sound for pain.
You are ocean water in my hands –
slipping through my fingers, always
leaving some part of you behind:
salt, the smell of brine.