(by Sarah Kay)
I had already fallen in love
with far too many postage stamps
when you appeared on my doorstep
wearing nothing but a postcard promise.
No, appeared is the wrong word.
Is there a word for sucker-punching
someone in the heart? Is there a word
for when you’re sitting at the bottom of a
roller coaster and you realize that
the climb is coming, that you know what
the climb means, that you can already
feel the flip in your stomach from the fall
before you’ve even moved. Is there a
word for that? There should be.
You can only fit so many words in a postcard,
only so many in a phone call, only so many
into space, before you forget that words
are sometimes used for things other than
filling emptiness. It is hard to build a body
out of words. I have tried. We have both tried.
Instead of holding your head to my chest,
I tell you about the boy who lives downstairs
from me, who stays up all night long
practicing his drum set. The neighbors have
complained, they have busy days tomorrow!
But he keeps on thumping through the night,
convinced, I think, that practice makes
perfect. Instead of holding my hand, you
tell me about the sandwich you made for lunch
today, how the pickles fit so perfectly with
Practice does not make perfect.
Practice makes permanent. Repeat the same
mistakes over and over, and you don’t get any
closer to Carnegie Hall. Even I know that.
Repeat the same mistakes over and over, and
you don’t get any closer. You never get any closer.
Is there a word for the moment you win
tug-of-war, when the weight gives and all that
extra rope comes hurtling towards you, how
even though you’ve won, you still wind up with
muddy knees and burns on your hands. Is there
a word for that? I wish there was. I would have said it,
when we were finally alone together on your couch,
neither one of us with anything left to say,
“Still now, I send letters into space, hoping that
some mailman somewhere will track you down
and recognize you from the description in my poems,
that he will place the stack of them in your hands
and tell you, ‘There is a girl who still writes you. She
doesn’t know how not to.'”