My talk, my song

 
You passed away on a Saturday, on a hot summer day. I imagine your street was filled with the sound of children playing, their nannies running after them to pad their backs with towels to rid them of their sweat. I wonder if you could hear them, or if it took all your strength to just manage one breath at a time, fighting to get precious air into your ravaged lungs.

 
Were you surrounded by the people you loved? Did you see their faces, or did pain blind you to everything but the growing weight on your chest that refused stop until it finally took your life?

 
You left without a word. Someone mentioned you were gone, and because I loved you in secret, I mourn you in secret as well. Except I don’t know how to say goodbye. Not to you. Never to you. And so, if you don’t mind, I’ll go on like before—still writing letters to you that I’ll never send, still dreaming of a life with you that I’ll never have.

 
Rest well, my love. May you wake someday and find me there.

 
 

 

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Still now …

 
Postcards
(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
the lettuce.

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.'”

 
 

In secret, between the shadow and the soul

 
Every conversation with you now is hushed. Stolen. Half my mind wrapped around the warm sound of your voice, the other alert to any sound of movement in my sleeping home. I sneak away to dark corners in the middle of the night, like an addict anxious for a fix. You are my drug, and some nights I feel like I need you in me, no matter what the cost.

 
I spend days dreaming of September or October, about seeing you for the first time after so many years. I lie in bed trying to remember the touch of your hand, the taste of your mouth, the warm smoothness of your skin. I cannot wait to be with you again.

 
My conscience is troubled by my sin, but the part of me that belongs to you asks: how can this be wrong when I loved you first? If every minute that I am with another feels like a betrayal of our love, then am I not living my sin everyday that I am away from you? I loved you first, I have loved you longest. I love you the most. In my heart I know that I have always been yours. Anyone else is merely a steward, a caretaker of your belongings until you come once again to reclaim your possession.

 
I live in a world tangential to what we see everyday. And in that world, you are my husband and I am your wife. We are not wishful thinking. Not an affair. Not a dream on hold. We simply are.

 
SONNET 17
Pablo Neruda

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.