May 20, 2013
In the end, he had the most terrible voice. It rang in her ears when he was hundreds and thousands of miles away, bouncing off the insides of her skull as if her brain weren’t there to cushion or muffle or stop it. It whispered words like “us” and “this” and she felt tendrils of him, a ghost that wasn’t there wrapping her in whispers. Empty words, a ghost that wasn’t there. It shouted words like “fault” and “blame” and “hate” and she felt it with fear, fingers tight around her wrist and hand hard against her shoulder, holding her to the wall, to these words that weighed her down. In the most terrible voice. But she needed it. In a way that scared her. In a way that made her itch and shake and clamp her hands over her ears tight, half so she wouldn’t hear a thing and half so that she would keep that voice bouncing, with no way out. She didn’t want to forget his voice. No matter how terrible. Because once it was soft. Once she felt it blow words onto her skin and drop them like flowers, gentle and soft and fleeting. He was gentle, and soft, and fleeting. And now she tossed alone with only the ghost of him. She could not remember his fingertips or where they went on her body. Or the scratch of his beard or his tongue on her skin. That time was past. But she still had the whispers. And the shouts. She still had empty words, tendrils, a ghost that she refused to put to rest. And she kept them. Because maybe a terrible memory of a terrible voice was better than the quiet.
October 14, 2012
He puts his arm around her neck and stumbles a little bit and his lips, close to her face, are smiling. From them come slurred words and the smell of whiskey and something else, maybe the cinnamon stick from the sangria, or juniper. He is telling her goodbye. She holds his hand and listens. Of course, she’s not leaving for another month and has already asked him to save his goodbyes for the last sunset before she leaves, when the sky melts pink into the horizon and he can’t make out, in the dull glow, that she is not crying. Or to just put them in a box and lock them away; keep your goodbyes, she asks him. His words tell her in cinnamon and juniper, “No, it’s important. I want you to know, and if I don’t say it now…”.
No. Not juniper. Maybe tobacco. He sits down and rolls another cigarette. She stands. His large hand hugs her bare thigh. She does not find him attractive. But she may be in love. If not for the sensation, just for something to do. She does not, however, like goodbyes. His eyes are the green of a swamp. Murky and unclear and she’s never sure what lies behind them. In the back of her mind, she knows it’s trouble. His crooked smile agrees. “You’re so cute” in cinnamon and tobacco.
Elsewhere, she cried because she was in love. Not for lack of anything to do. Not for the sensation. Then, she learned that if you fall in love, you may keep your wits about you, you may maintain control, but if love falls on you, not for lack of anything to do, not for the sensation, not by any choice of your own, it will keep you down.
She cried, which was normal then because he made her very, very unhappy. His soft hand hugged her bare thigh and he pulled her closer. He asked her to stop crying and hid kisses in her hair. He spoke with his eyes closed. She knew why: they could not keep secrets. Her wet face was buried in his chest. She wondered if she hated him. His hand did not let her go. He shielded brown orbs that wanted to look at her longingly; he always pulled her closer. He will never tell her he loves her. She will never know for sure.
No, not tobacco. Marijuana. And she smells of it, too. They lie in a tangled mess in his bed; his hand hugs her bare thigh. They suffer the hot spanish nights that are foreign to them both. They shine in thin layers of sweat. “Toe-mah-toe” he whispers in smoky waves of hash. He knows the effect it has. Her body shakes and rolls into him and giggles rise through the grey fog; they seem to come up from her feet. Or from the window with streaks of cold white moonlight that lend a pale glow to dancing clouds of smoke, and a stifling heat. Her lips move. The word “toe-may-toe” is lost in the smoke and mirth and moonlight. His lips plant toe-mah-toes on her body until her giggles moan. The smoke rises; he is still saying goodbye.
Elsewhere, he will think of her while driving to an early afternoon summer class. His blue eyes will scan the southwestern mountains on the horizon and wonder where she is. He will remember that they spent cobweb afternoons in other peoples’ bedrooms huddled close together. He will regret that his hand only just brushed her bare thigh.
On a different day she will remember him, too. She will always look up into his blue eyes. She will always love the way her name sounds when it is pushed from his lips. She will make a mental note: I will return from the southern Spanish sun and he will say my name again soon.
Elsewhere, on an Italian beach, a German with his hands in her shorts and his words in her mouth asks her “Would you like to fuck?” and giggles come up from her feet. So polite. His tongue darts in and out of his rough mouth; he tastes like beer. She is amused. His friends are waiting. The waves and the moon share secrets and everything has a faint red hue. He reminds her of cinnamon sticks, and southwestern mountains. She doesn’t notice the color of his eyes. She won’t remember his name. His moans go up like smoke and his fingers leave tips all over her body. “Are you horny?” Her tongue presses his own back into his mouth. He talks too much. She wants to hear the whispers of the waves to the moon.
Elsewhere, she lay in a bed too small for two people with her back to the windows and a pale winter dawn. His hand pushed unruly black hair away from her face. She opened tired eyes and smiled. His brown eyes shone golden in the early morning light and told his secrets. He pulled her closer and she felt that he loved her. She did not know if the warmth on her back was his hand hugging her bare skin, or a weak January sun.
Elsewhere, he screamed because his eyes did not look only at her. She cried because she did not choose this.
He kissed her face. She closed her eyes, now not caring to know his secrets. She waited to hear his words.
She has a habit of wrapping her arms around her shoulders while she waits. She has been in Spain for three days and doesn’t know anyone. He stops her in the parking lot with a British accent and asks how she’s getting on. They go to dinner and she hears him say “toe-mah-toe” for the first time and tries to stifle her giggles. She is scared she’s offended him. His swamp green eyes don’t tell. The corners of his mouth turn up with mischief and he whispers again, “toe-mah-toe”.
Elsewhere, after a month of waiting, she wraps her arms around herself. She is bored; in want of something to do. He smirks, “Stop hugging yourself, leave some for me,” and closes himself around her. She breathes him in, orange and cloves, and decides to fall in love.
A boy she met in a California summer called her come autumn when she was elsewhere and grunted at her. “I want you”. “To do what,” she laughed. “I want you,” he repeated.
On his street, she will stand in awe of the southwestern mountains, draped in hazy amethyst, capped in snow. She will not be able to remember seeing anything more beautiful elsewhere; not on an Italian beach lit amber; not in a silver blur of Spanish smoke. She will stand in the middle of the road in the middle of the afternoon smiling at an alpen glow. He will stand a few steps away, his hands big in his pockets, blue eyes on her. He will not be able to remember seeing anything more beautiful elsewhere.
Elsewhere, they were friends. She will always remember the first time he grabbed her hand and tangled his fingers with hers. She will always remember the first time he whispered “come here”. The gilded spark in his eye when she learned his best secrets.
They walked down a dock into a thick fog to an end they could not see. A heart was offered and accepted. She did not remember whose. The other would shortly follow.
The first time they kissed he could not help but smile, golden-eyed. He pulled her closer, her lips mirrored his.
He will never tell her he loves her. He tangled himself up in a hand he did not belong in. He was not for her.
“I don’t fancy you,” he says as he takes her picture. The afternoon hung on the air with a smell of tomatoes and olive oil. They are constantly coated in fine films of sweat. Her beer perspires also. “I didn’t ask.” She doesn’t much care.
Elsewhere, he strokes her face and calls her beautiful; his swamp eyes have found Spanish eyes that smolder. Her plane takes off in a week and she waits. She wraps her arms around herself. “Stop hugging yourself”. He exhales words in clouds of tobacco. His arms do not replace her own. She is bored.
She will knock lightly on his door and whisper good morning when she comes in with bare feet. The sun will rise quietly in the window and the night’s shadows will be thrown across the hardwood floor. He will make room for her in his bed when she comes in. She will not lie down. She will not know how to love him.
Elsewhere, she will give him a playful slap. He will ask her to kiss it better. She will not know how to love him. She will have to say goodbye to him in four days. She does not like goodbyes.
In a California summer, she lay her head on a broad shoulder; his hand brushed her bare skin. (And brushed it again.) They were breaking the rules. He told her jokes and they laughed at the moon and the rum and the rules. (And brushed it again.) She forgot the eyes that shone golden elsewhere. (And brushed it again.)
She kept her head on his shoulder and waited for his hand to brush her thigh again. He watched her breathing. She didn’t know what he wanted from her. He would tell her come autumn.
“You can be such a bitch,” he tells her. There is gin on his breath. She asked for a slice of lemon in her bourbon. She leaves tomorrow. She is losing her voice and her patience is gone. She does not respond.
She thinks of potential love affairs in California and how they follow her across 48 contiguous and united states but do not follow her across an ocean. Words afraid to get wet, words that do not swim. Words that hold no water.
She gets on the plane and heads home. She leaves him in a distant memory elsewhere where his eyes are hazy and he smells of tobacco.
They will converse digitally. Short statements. With long pauses. And sentence structure that’s odd just a little bit. She will forget. How her name sounds. Pushed. from his lips. The blue of his eyes or the mountains or the sky. She will. Forget.
One day, She may wash dishes in a house that she one day fell in love with. She may type away with clicking fingers in an office in the house she one day fell in love with at a job she only dreamed about. She may share this life with a man who may have swept her off her feet with a blurred face and indistinct eyes. She may maintain her looks and her smarts and her wit. She may have puppies. She may be happy. She may make love to her man in passionate throes or in a bi-weekly routine to conceive their first child. She may sip hot chocolate in front of a fire and resemble, slightly, happiness. She may get all she’s wanted, but her mind will be elsewhere.
October 5, 2012
Sometimes you walk down the same damn street for too long and you fight your way through the grey of the fog and the black of the shadows and the blinding white of some jackass’s headlights and the blaring of his horn. That won’t turn the light green any faster. But you walk along and you count how many manhole covers from 42nd to 34th, or how many pigeons or how many pieces of gum stuck to the sidewalk on the same damn street. Every so often you walk and you deal with the fog and the horn and the gum and the shadows and you find, gleaming on the ground, haloed by the headlights, untouched by the pigeons, what you were looking for. Shining, like a bright new penny. And you remember why you fell in love.
June 18, 2012
You burned your fingertips into my thighs
In a pattern that left scars on my heart as
your soft, clumsy hands brushed and
tried and troubled to make us one in a way
You didn’t know how
You knit your brow and your lips didn’t speak
and sometimes when it rains I feel the burn
electrifying my skin where your fingers were
I wonder if you ever feel it, too.
my lips were never so good at trapping my words
and my teeth
got in the way. my tongue painted lines
on your body and mind but I was never sure
if the heart you put in my hand was yours-
Or just something to keep me occupied.
It’s broken now. Whatever it was that i held so gently,
(for fear of treating it wrong)
has crumbled, but
My hand is still reaching out just in case you have
something else for me to hold.
Your lips parted that night and your tongue drew words
on my soul. Beautiful. Mine.
I was confused and your fingers still pressed against me pulling
me into you, testing if I were real and
pushing me away when I proved to be too solid
for your fluid feelings.
You couldn’t pour them into me.
We just kept each other occupied.
I never left you. And maybe I should have but
your ebb and flow always came back to me with the same
crash and when you crawled away it left me
wet and cold. But I stayed. Knowing
that you’d always come back, until you didn’t.
Until something else would catch you, and keep you occupied.
April 18, 2012
We traced our circles in the sand
In opposite directions
Overhead, the sun stood still.
And when our hands touched
(In a drunk and forgotten movement)
I lay my head on your chest without invitation
And your heart whispered booms in my ear
a foreign tongue would tell me
the invitation was always there.
In a drunk and forgotten moment.
Overhead, the sun stood still.
February 8, 2012
In retrospect, I’ll decide that no matter how good it felt, it probably wasn’t one of my best ideas.
It’s too soon for retrospect. So I let my pants come off and I quiver like I should when his tongue is on my skin. I know I’ll be smarter about this tomorrow and I know that by the time I wise up I’ll be too sober to ignore the hurt. But I love him. And that will knock down whatever walls I’ve built.
At least, I think I love him. I may be confusing love with this weird mix of sweat and alcohol and these soft moans that I can’t stop from escaping me and that drive him so crazy. Maybe that’s just what love is. But I can’t think about that right now. I can’t focus on much besides his rough kisses that leave my skin almost as quickly as he plants them there and how much attention he pays to the parts of my body I forget about; collarbones, ankles, the back of my knee. Maybe that’s what love is, proper care to the back of the knee. Or how he makes my mind race and I’m thinking all at once about anatomy and kisses and another whiskey sour and nothing at all. And love. But I can’t think of that right now.
I’ll save it for retrospect.
January 21, 2012
his slow breaths stop mine
i can’t tell why he wants me
i was always his
We taste this wicked philosophy
Feel the oil drip and puddle in our veins
Tingle and wet the skin
Stagger. And bind the brain.
You will inhale my anatomy
Remember what science is.
Your solitary thought
My scent will stay and meander
When your urge can thrill my ear
(with murmur, or roar)
And the sound of your naked mouth cools my cheek
Teach angels to sing
Drink to us
Slip under the moon and take the color
Leave the sun for the storm.
I throw my tiny voice across immense summers
Speak music like mud
Like the weeds that rose from the dirt
Always under your boot
And on your mind
Hold on to light;
We only borrow paradise.
January 7, 2012
Out of silence, you rose
bated breaths, quick gasps
With a stroke you grew
and with a heave you became
For one finger you quivered
For a hand you moaned
For a kiss you begged
With clenched fists
And curled toes, you resisted
With a swear and a prayer
January 7, 2012
sprinkles the breeze
In the shade
of the spruce, the sun slips
through the wilting wire fence
and dots the stucco and stone foundation
of our home
At this table
for Sunday afternoon lunch
It’s only me
and the secretive shadows
In this game I’ve taken
his queen and his rooks
have fallen captive to me
This table is a hazard
The wood on these
and grates against skin.
Towers of cups tilt
and topple and spin
when they hit the surface
the tin of old forks
and knives is rusted
and sullen, brooding.
The forks reaching up
for the sun.
The knives, blade turned down, blunt
edges, silent and strong
They sit in the tin, too
(because I never remembered,
knives on the right…)
They clink softly as they’re pushed
around in the breeze
In this game I’ve lost two pawn,
In deafening silence I wait
I’ve lost my opponent as well