When I was young I learned that everyone I loved would fade to gray but I saw you blue. You looked so comfortable with your eyes half open wide like sleep came over you like no surprise. It followed me down the stairs and through the dark, and I remember it hit me all at once that I would forget your voice and the places we had gone, but the words came over me like no surprise. And I can’t begin to tell you what gave me the urge to step outside. It must’ve been the sirens blaring telling me to get back inside.
The night you became sure, you stood in my room like you were waiting for me to push you over. Never meant to fake it, but each time it got a bit more hopeless. Each time a new door was opened. All my hope took form as habit. Something was bound to break it, and I know myself more than anyone, still questioning what I’d die defending. That’s not something that you want to hear. Didn’t mean to involve you, sorry if I do. Got my whole night wrapped up in the ceiling. I was just so in love with that feeling. I feel it all from my bedroom, pull the curtain from that divine statue. When the honest truth becomes an excuse, when you run out of rules to follow you follow through. All the times I have used your friendship. I’ve stretched your trust, left you hanging to a promise I never made. I was wise enough to recognize commitments I couldn’t keep. Well that’s growing up to you. You learn to define boundaries, no wonder you feel so boxed in. Was it obvious you’d change your mind, that you’d come around like thunder when the spring broke through. Had my heart set on not missing you. Didn’t mean to ignore you, sorry if I do. If time moves past this view I have where you go I’ll follow / I’ll follow you.
Searching for the right words, they’re right in front of you. Translate “sandpaper surface of the freeway.” You spend too much time on the details. It’s simpler than that. So how do we get through it, it’s such a long way, traffic. Downplay silence to the hearing. Assume you’re holding on to secrets. It’s simpler than that. Like a language you learn but never speak while the west coast forest burns. Like the victim you never thought you’d be, another action overturned. It’s justice. Searching for the right words, they’re right in front of you. We can’t fix this. Now that we’ve been through it, look back and point to each thing you earned. It’s simpler than that. Like an aborigine you can’t set free. Nothing worth much is learned. Like a fetish for an oral history, another asset losing worth. It’s justice.
It’s July and it smells so sweet, and the air feels heavy when I breathe in. Inside I’m rusted but outside the sirens tease me with their lights. It could’ve been different. I could’ve been getting high in your SUV while your mom calls relentlessly. You ignore it, say it doesn’t matter, “she knows where I am,” but does she know where you’re going? It could’ve been different. I could’ve been a little more desperate when the pills didn’t work and the car, well, it always died. It could’ve been different. I could have been losing track of time, crossing over solid lines. You could have been dreaming for a while. I found you sleeping like a child. You might have lived if I had known the signs. Maybe I could see you again. Getting by on minimum. Started a fire in my mom’s kitchen. Now she’s pissed off. Yeah well it doesn’t matter, at least I know where I’m going. They all think I’m bluffing, but who said that I was all-knowing.
The kids on the mountain recommended me a strain, but I don’t think I’ll visit the dispensary just like everyone. I was overwhelmed the time I drove a rental into the Rockies, climbing towards climax learning how to breath, was a good thing, no fantasy. In my giddy, jet-lagged, dehydrated state, I was a foreign substance introduced into the veins of a bleeding world just like everyone. Shouldn’t I feel strong enough to take in what you’re trying to say, not hiding in the trough of a Big Data wave. I don’t know who you are, it doesn’t matter. I don’t know who you are and I don’t care. You’re just like everyone. She takes nature photographs on the weekends, uploads them to Insta with a short caption like “please stop treating yourself like an afterthought,” text emblazoned over crimson sky at dawn, and I’ve been struggling with my neurotic need to be original. Stop the pathetic mumbling, with all that romantic shit. Get to work, get paid. Hiding in yourself, hating your own face. We don’t know who you are, it doesn’t matter. We don’t know who you are and we don’t care. Maybe that’s harsh. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Maybe just do what you want and see where it takes you. You’ll always have a home, even if just for a moment. Maybe just go where you want and see where it leaves you. “Please stop treating yourself like an afterthought.” The horizon has nothing that you haven’t got. Just like everyone, you were overwhelmed.
I am gathering all of the pieces of the places I’ve resisted remembering. They come in waves, they come in plagues, and I’m left wondering. Will I ever feel anything other than feeling alone? Will I always be a shelter? Will I ever be a home? Wait, no, it’s nobody’s fault. We’re all inherently flawed. Please don’t leave me here wondering why I’ve been left all alone. I wonder if they feel my shape underneath theirs in the bed we lay. It still frequents the thoughts in my head in this home that we made. And I still taste you in every bite, see you in every stare. I feel your hands wrap around my waist and then around my neck and…
The town I live in is a wilderness and I’m filling a pretty weird niche. I’ve got no reason to be here, but we all must exist. Purpose is like a pack of wolves and you’ve got to give them something so I sprinkle seeds by the front step. I doubt they’ll grow given the pavement, and I know this won’t last. In the back of my mind I am civilized and I forget this too fast. Wait up all night for sunrise, wait out the winter for springtime. There’s a garden snake by the front step waiting for its scales to thaw. Waiting for the next big die-out, waiting for my clothes to dry out. Reach my fingers in my pocket for an aluminum foil ball, and I know this won’t last. In the back of my mind I am civilized and I know how I should react when there’s a world pent-up squirming right in front of me. I want to reach out but I’m scared. What could it it do to me? And the stars look wild tonight, don’t they, my queen, so dark and distant, clothed in mystery. City-living is strangers passing by the window, passing by the stores and coffee shops, a hundred ways to pray. If they say it’s a cool town, they just mean it has good food, makes you feel like a predator with a hundred ways to prey. It won’t always be this way. Amazon or the startup it bought could take even this away, but not you, my queen, my civility, my green ferns in the forest, my big red oak tree. My civility, rooted and buried, I will turn to you naked and simple, clothed in mystery.
I won’t deny it. There is music shaking in the words you choose, but it’s got nothing to do with you. Like the rain crawls up through the roots, like the tide pools pull at the moon, it’s got nothing to do with you. It’s the poetry I lent to you. It’s the quiet I pulled out of you, the way my leaving felt like charity. It was the pointed rocks of the gravel drive that tore up the soles of my feet, nothing to do with you. You did not pursue the conversation, didn’t feel like it used to. I could not say why, but the silence burned like a wildfire. We pause at a bend in the road where it skirts the edge of a meadow. I turn around to look at you and say “I don’t expect you to change. I guess we just get so stuck in our own grooves. I don’t know what you want me to tell you,” and you know I always hated men before I knew you. You remember how the mist rose off of the lake in the morning we started drinking early. It was rising, it was rising and then it just dissolved. And you know I never noticed much before I knew you. You did not reply. The conversation just didn’t feel right. I could not say what it was. You did not reply. Something half-formed you couldn’t verbalize got stuck in your sternum, and the silence burned like a wildfire.
You’re a black hole, so vast and beautiful, but you take in all the debris. All you wanted was to be a planet, a mass of energy, something orbiting in green. Well I think you’ve got potential. You pull light straight from the sky. All who’ve seen, they stare in wonder, light pouring from their eyes. I’ve been falling in and out of love with myself for quite some time. There’s a backdoor, an easier way out. Never made much sense to me. When the house had caught on fire, the rug pulled from your feet, you stood burning with the debris. Well I know you’ve got potential, seen you light entire skies. Yeah I know you’ve got potential, seen it burning in your eyes.
You looked so uncomfortable when I saw you last, always dipping out of conversations to the kitchen for another drink, and outside in the streetlight it was freezing cold. Found you sitting in your accord. You were thinking about going home. I’m sorry that fate dropped this hardship in your lap. I know it’s not my place to ask. You’d say something cryptic and then look away. You were so quick to bring it up, but more so to brush it off. As wrapped up as you were in tragedy, I knew the real source of your pain was more consistent, more mundane. I’m sorry that fate dropped this hardship in your lap. I know it’s not my place to ask, but I’ve noticed more than you might think that I have:
the potholed road, the curdling snow, the pocket of warmth we shared in your car. You don’t need love the way I know how to love. I couldn’t see your face in the dark, like I’d never seen you at all. You don’t need love the way I know how to love. Every time I see your face I see what I’ve lost. Every time I see you breaks my heart. I know you’d say I did nothing wrong. I know what you’d say. I’m not sure how I’d respond. Time breaks my heart.