Part 1: You
I know you don’t got friends like my friends, friends in the backseat of moving boxes holding your muscle mass close while we all lament how I’m better off without you. I know you don’t got friends who sideline conversations and consummations to ask me if I need a hand to hold while I don’t text you back. I do. I do text you back while they’re in the next room, to tell you you’re too late, a period after a partial-birthed sentence to death in my mind, second of your kind but what did you expect, lab results came in and if you repeat the pattern I will explode. I am worn out of your half-minded admissions and apologies because the only penance to me would be full confessionals but you can’t look in a mirror let alone church so I am stuck with my rosary beads.
Part 2: All
I feel Janie’s arms around me, H Melt’s head on my shoulder, Kiam swaying to the song, Dietzler tossing me to the side in his arms, Cassie’s breath in my ear, Joe and Stefin are tapping my shoulder, Joseph is spraying Florida water in my face while Jesus cuts my hair, Grace is using one arm to wrap me like an infant and one to text the draft to you we never sent, Dana is sleeping like a warrior and Patrick will stir like a summer’s drink in his sleep, Jessica will look me in the eyes and ask me ask me ask me why, Monica will give me a plus-one for her wedding, Adam will forgive my absences and Seth will lament with me like he knows no love, Nico will commiserate while Tony laughs behind the bar because he knows me glass half-full, Rachel will nod and Kelsey will shrug, Ian will send me well-wishes like the pennies I tossed in, and more will ask why they were not poetically professed, so I am surrounded by love and I will always be fine.
Part 3: Me
I ran out of words for you a month ago. You can’t undo final prints. I don’t know what else to say, the eulogies are wrapped in love and hate and bare-bones raw nights I do not privilege you to see any longer. I am victor because I always recover, stronger, aware, gracious and open.
If you ride the Zephyr or US-6 you can see my body in the mud where God buried me in my sleep, never saw her coming, though after the first men moved me to removal I should’ve known I angered the gods, should’ve made peace with the storms. They warned me once we settled down that short-term fixes are like marriage beds of scotch tape, ’cause she got that wind in her sails; Olivia bows to no man’s body. She broke me like the spur-line, metal cracks under her heel. I felt the rain she brought, and I lost my home. Keep excavating, keep seeking reparations, the state can’t help your hearth underground. We lived like it was every wonder we woke up after that. Keep your coal, I got gold lining out west, bring my body back to Nauvoo when we are done, it’d like to see the safety someday. Now I’m visible from truck stops and passenger cars, what a life I lead.
When my mother stops speaking like she’s spitting teeth, I will ask her why first-borns are always the sacrifice, prodigal done proper in a suit and tie. If I tell you my secrets will you cut off my hair to break down tandem temples. Will you break these bones in your teeth, will you tell your lies about my She, will you dismiss the dis-ease in my laboured breath. I am in your church, lying about needing this body sacrament like you asked. I am standing and sitting and kneeling and standing and sitting like a good girl does, mindful machinists behind pulpits tell me my sins. I follow the flow of heating bodies, no touching, down pews to aisles to lines to altar, The Body Of Christ: is a man so we say yes but he was only a man and eating magic potion humans and drinking blood in Catholic cannibalism was never my Sunday brunch. Yet I am here with my yes-man Amen so you do not have another reason to turn red.
The truth in my body is waiting for husbands to return from war, I can’t follow otherwise. We lit a candle in the window of this living room she loved me in, then peered in eardrums for where these memories seeped out onto our pillows in my sleep, waking the stomach bile every morn, keeping the tossing turning tumblers in my bed with me. I ate my own heart, is that what you want to hear? That you are forgiven through my inhumane acts every night? You will always be the villain in your own mind, page turners burned outside dystopian libraries in your name; all my future lovers scratch your name out of their diaries in red pen, two days is not long enough for a heart to stop beating tender, you used your fear like a scissor. Scrapbook your intentions to the roof of your mouth, I care not for your late night phone calls; language reveals the true intent in this rambled mission statement. So here it is: you had my heart like a stoplight but you chose to be gone, so. Be gone. I still wanted your fingerprints until I realized you can’t love the war between God and the devil in your clavicle, then I gave up seeing your false skin, and now I picture your cruelty worn like a corsage. Keep your last poem like war correspondence; I am light and laughter and love now, you missed the next chapter.
There are no speed limits on life for moments like this, where my knees hit everything in sight on the way down and someone’s making somber calls. If I don’t believe in this hard enough it won’t be true; today was for goodbyes. We can be both right and wrong like parallel lines. How callous my brain is for thinking of you in soft words, you deserve only the sound of lips pressed to skin or sun. Every moon makes a noise for you, we know. Will this winter be the darkest? I loved you against logic, I loved you with each finger and toe, I love you with all the losses that came before this. I can’t bring myself to wipe your handprints off the wall so I made them into a banner. We got these emotions out of thick air, humidity we were hoarding for the summer spent together, but steam released will fog January car windows ’til we’re not sure we’re highway driving at night, cautionary edicts ignored like hitchhikers these days. My bedroom finally stopped smelling like your shampoo.
When the window’s open on a Square/Sunday/Spring I am reminded by the comfort that you will be again and this is all recycled air and we are footnotes in a story detailing art movements down spinal columns energy begets energy and this is why I am so in motion keep the breeze we stayed inside.
Close your eyes and breathe.
Remember the night he first held your hand. Stop.
Hold your breath.
(he will never leave you he will never leave you like a shoreline on your creased palm)
We are stardust and sneezes and air pockets and last i love yous and lips in moments we forgot until we walked past the same corner she took a break from carrying a burden on a Saturday afternoon and you laughed when i did too
and all these things begin again so I wait like a lamp post, and each apartment complex is built one brick at a time,
so I breathe.
I got those cringes like papercups stacked to my ceiling and shorthand black books like veins, so keep compression vests as life savers and we’ll make it out alright. I can’t remember when I first told you I know forever is two Mississippi markers but you can’t count that high and I never had time to be alright. We know I’ve gotta learn to sleep alone cause you won’t. I never saw fairy tale endings, I only saw the way you looked at me and that was always enough even when you doubted; but don’t doubt. You never crossed the Atlantic with eyes glued to Midwestern plains, but my tendons snapped holding airlines back so go where you gotta and see where I land (rubberbandman). You get two days to tell me you were wrong. Then regrets are regressions, silence.