It took almost a year to realize-

Experience dictates that love is:

something that you must save.

/over/

Something you have in abundance,

ready to be given away.

A gift

/over/

Admission, an

Acceptance

/over/

Explosion.

Temptation, over

A tide, a

beginning

/A/

beginning;

Love

reveals how beautiful a love is:

which can make different people

be loved

in the same way that they are in love.

Advertisements

Shudder

When he died, it was on a corner near a dozing shopping mall, half-shelled and hulled of its meat, its people, filled only with caged storefronts and empty vats for melting cheese. The lights on the street-side had been dim for years but in morning they were nearly transparent. That morning he stood, and waited, with the lights to his back. He wanted someone to get there.

The whole thing had happened so early that it seemed it was the earliest it ever would be. I mean, it seemed like that hour had been specifically set aside for his death. Nothing else breathed or moved in the world at that time. There was only Andrew, and the car.

I don’t waste spare moments contemplating the mode, the method, operandi, operatory. It is easy enough to assume. Yes, there was alcohol. Yes, there was sidewalk. Yes there was blood on sidewalk yes there was.

That’s not what’s important here.

Okay?

I know what important things are.

For instance, I loved him- you could call that “important.” I loved him in a way that made my life different; and changed the shape of my body. I could feel the cavernous hole in my chest getting bigger to take in more love for him. I could feel it getting bigger and bigger, sucking my blood vessels into a whirlpool with a big wet smacking POP.

My love wasn’t a bad thing, though. It just took a lot,

and was very large.

Alright?

 

Andrew was known for his stories.

He was a writer in a way I never could be, always twisting and yarning and crafting his words. He loved to say we were different people, like the two scientists who were responsible for learning how to grow lima beans in space. Don’t ask me how he came up with this stuff.

One moment, it would just occur to him.

“Casp!” he’d say, “We’re inventors. We invented the first bendable stovepipe and now we’re millionaires!”

I’d laugh, and kiss his forehead, and speak with a fancy rich accent for the rest of the day. Our imaginations were the best part of us; they took us through a lot. I liked that he could always be in love with me, no matter what we did or where we lived or which millionaires we were that day. There was something comforting about pretending to be someone else. Maybe it was like falling in love with him all over again, each time.

Our sex became stories, too. The dueling warlords who fought with their cocks, the professor and the schoolboy. There were times when I missed the two of us, but it was almost easier that way. Our stories were exciting. Our lives could sometimes be plain.

What struck me through all this, though, was the time Andrew talked about his grave.

“I’m not shuddering, Casper, I’m shivering. I just get that sometimes.”

“You don’t have to have a seizure every time. You freak me out when you do that.”

“You know how they say when you shiver, it’s someone walking on your grave?”

“I guess.”

Andrew’s eyes started to sparkle, his writerly hands on my shoulders, he said “I think I’m going to have a very popular grave.”

He meant that he was going to be famous, of course. He saw hordes of pilgrims winding up a mountain road, bringing well-loved copies of his books and leaving tokens by his headstone. He saw generations of readers and literature-lovers kneeling in the soft dirt of his burial mound until it was reduced to sand and then dust. He thought maybe his place of death would be a point of interest, someday. I loved the way he could think.

It didn’t turn out that way, obviously. He was cremated, so I guess you could say his grave was where he died: where the wooden roadside cross sat spiked into the grass for exactly 27 days before it broke apart or disappeared. It was that corner, where he waited for a friend, where a friend just up and killed him. It got built over.

The drowsy mall became a vacant lot and the vacant lot became condos, and when the condos went decrepit they put trees and a park there instead. The park was slowly invaded by biking paths that became road crossings and a new mall was built around them, this time with elevators like drive-through bank tubes and shiny stainless counters over which passed melted cheese. It’s a busy place, a popular place, that brings new money into the neighborhood. There is no grass to spike in American flags, wreaths, or photos.

I miss him all the time so I go there, anyway. I buy the soft pretzel with a lemonade and cross the street to sit on a bench. The people passing are reading trashy novels and probably only smoke out of rigid pipes; they traipse back and forth all day and into the early morning. They stream into the mall and out again, and in, and out.

I wish it didn’t turn out this way. I am reminded that it’s really hard to love someone.

Andrew’s grave, it turns out, is a crosswalk.

Eleven (11)

I am closing my eyes to see you.

I see you with closed eyes.

You seem,

In pain,

My hands are holding your face.

I am kissing your forehead.

Nothing else matters,

Although all of you matters.

But my love is leaving my lips.

The minute hand turns and I

Cross myself

Did you feel it?

That was my wish.

Future Lover

Future lover

We are getting ice cream.

I see you in the crevices of light, little chinks of golden glow between the palm leaves.

You are the reds (of course)

And the greens

You are burnished copper.

I never thought that sunrises were as spectacular

But you did.

We’re with your family, and they

Tell me sunrise is better.

Future lover, I took you for tea

You fell in love the way I did with

Nostalgia stacked,

What I had left.

You saw all I had to give.

You loved me.

I am more than enough,

My family tells you,

Get married in the morning.

You nod your head and silently smile

You know some things

are better.

Ex Lover

Maybe I need to remind myself,

Future me,

How it felt to be with him.

I don’t want you to forget.

Maybe it would help to trace the outline

Of his face and ask yourself

What more you wanted than this.

I’ve only listened to his heart a couple times

But I’m sure it’s full of things complex and tired just like mine

I’m sure he wants the same from me.

I’ll tell you how it felt, then

To kiss him.

Felt like sharing our umbrella

Oxygen tank

Felt like melting at the same rate

Newton’s law of slow unconsciousness.

If only I could describe to you,

The shadows on his body shape

Those were the places

My mouth wanted most, maybe because

I related.

Remember:

The backs of his ears.

It’s an uncommon thing to be allowed to touch there.

Please remember:

The feeling of being clean

Of being terrified, but safe

Of feeling wanted.

No, I know I’m wanted.

This was more than

that.

 

Resolved

Nope. Me neither.

I won’t make up any New Year’s resolutions.

I don’t want to boil down my future to a checklist. I want to spend this year and the next and every indeterminable length of time after those to continue to move forward, to always feel better and happier and stronger, to accomplish things I didn’t know I wanted to do. I will be better for the good things that happen without my expecting them; much less my planning for them. I will be better for the curve balls and the epiphanies and every single thrilling discovery I make.

After all, falling in love was a curve ball.

Essay writing was an epiphany.

Happiness is a resolution which can neither be written down nor ever checked off.

I wouldn’t want it to be.

But for my immediate future? Yes, I have some thoughts. Some guidelines.

I want to stop being ashamed of putting the highest emphasis on connections with people I love. I want to start being better at allowing those connections to exist; to reach out to the friends who were kind to me, who I miss, to stop ruling myself an outsider and cordoning myself off.

I have a feeling that 2017 will be a year that needs a lot of postage.

I have a feeling you’ll be hearing from me soon. /

Stuck in love

He watched my favorite movie.

He hated it.

How could I blame him, a film student, for hating a rom-com called Stuck In Love for God’s sake?

But what I feel right now is not blame.

I feel small.

I feel like the little girl who sat in her bedroom at night

on her pink and white comforter with the flowers

With a notebook in her lap and a pen in her hand

Who wrote fairytales.

I am that little girl

Who got called out of class

To talk to Child Protective Services in the main office

And answered questions like “what does your dad feed you?”

Who was looked at like she was stupid

By plastered-on concerned adult faces

Who just wanted to do their jobs

And bring in the bad guy.

But the bad guy was never just my dad.

He lived in my brain and slept in my skin since before I was born

He pressed his thick heel on my lungs and never let me forget

The heavy hand of conflict that never ever ceased.

Divorce, for me, wasn’t a word it was a life and my earliest memory

It was my backbone and my breastbone and every single fucking bone in me.

So when I sat on my comforter

And wrote about romance

Or that bright shining willow wisp I imagined it would be

I latched onto the boys like Lou from Stuck In Love. 

I escaped into stories of people finding each other

And I don’t care if it’s not real life

Because it never had to be.

Stuck In Love is a movie about writers,

About family

About a love that I thought was sacred in my room with my pen at 15.

They have the same favorite book.

They kiss in a car in the rain to the sound of an indie song about kissing in cars in the rain.

When Lou’s mother dies of cancer, they cry

And I always cry

Because this cheesy amalgam is real to me.

It is a version of life that I could only hope for myself

It is penned by a little girl on a pink and white comforter

And she is damned proud of it.

And she should be.

Two lovers converged in a dark emerald wood

Two lovers converged in a dark emerald wood

And the fork in the road led to the ocean

The dock opened up to the swirl of the the rain and the world

And the night was caught in lips that caught each other.

And the warmth of my wrists that carried a spark

Through the roots and the firs towards the house with the key

That we knew the secret hiding place of.

The counter was cool and the bannister felt like satin- like skin- like supple fingers trailing down my stomach

In the cool dark cavern that was A Place To Ourselves

In the deep high fever of my wanting for him

His wanting for me

Wanting each other.

Two lovers converged like hail falling on hail, each drop pop jump was a coupling- an embrace in the hallway on our way to the bed-

and the end of the night

under pillows of liquor.

And the swatch of vanilla fire fizzling thickly on my thumbs my tongue and my swaying feet

And the quiet fast happiness of a Beatles song

And a sloppy fast slowdance

And kisses.

Rush gave way to rush

Breath gave way to touch

And I stroked his back like I needed to

Like I cared that much.

And he felt it.

In the cabin in the storm in the night in the jagged sickness

He felt it.

And that made all the difference.