I could have killed you, could have hooked my finger into your lower eyelid and stripped the skin off from there to your shins.
But you know this.
Thank you for coming. I still feel you here with me on these plaid sheets, sitting in the brown chair by the window and peering into my fridge. I’m glad you could meet Jeff and Cindi and Doug. I think they liked you.
I feel for M, I do. I know it’s hard to get sober. I know it gets messy. I just wish it didn't get messy on your face and in mine. I can’t believe you were here—walked the sidewalk feeling the mayflies crunch beneath our feet, dove into Lake Erie only to be met abruptly by its shallow bottom. And Toledo—but that’s another story.
I don’t know if anyone has ever apologized to me the way you did. It shook me to my core. Em always says that learning to say “I fucked up,” was one of the greatest lessons of her life. I see it now. C is trying to figure out what to read at this wedding she’s in. She’s a poet so it’s hard. She sent me the poems by Louise Labé.
The last stanza of one:
I despair of you: though you've torched my heart,
Your flames licking at its most hidden parts,
Not a spark of this has seared your desire.
Part of me is still unsure how to continue with you now that the ground I thought was solid has to be reconstituted. Perhaps the revelation is that it was never solid to begin with. I look at things here differently now that I know your eyes have been on them. The skyline feels more like a living room. The Anselm Kiefer at the CMA isn’t only apocalyptic it’s uncomfortably nostalgic. Darice Polo’s drawings at SPACES are more than masterful drafsmanship because when I see them I also see your silhouette walk across them in my mind’s eye. Even Steve Smith’s assemblage changes because it’s seen you, born witness to the hump of your back under a sheet; It’s like we share a secret.
Part of me still wants to punish you, to tell you I’m never coming home or going anywhere with you. Part of me wants to stay in this little cottage forever turning the GUESTS sign on and off, and reading poems by dead lesbians till the world ends. But the truth is I still see you everywhere. I wake up with you, drink coffee out of Wink’s mug and think of you, get dressed and wonder what you would want to see me in. I read Neruda and wonder if you’d like him. I wander into Pat’s and wish you were here to sit on her good side—the side she can see out of—and hear how during the flood people canoed out of her second story window.
I’m still burning with the shame you caused. I’m not proud but a person can only channel her inner Beyoncé so many times. When you broke me again I wanted to run like a gazelle, no, like a predator, as far as the round earth would take me, but of course all that running brought me back to you.
I guess I just need you to be there for a while—do all that corny shit I thought I didn’t care about, what do they call them? Oh yes—“acts of devotion”
I’m sorry I called you “a fuck.”