My friend Derrick says love is the only
war worth dying for. But every time I say, "please come back", I feel
like I"m trying to find a dirty needle in a haystack, and God knows I
can't go out like that. I suppose we wear our traumas the way the
guillotine wears gravity. Our lovers' necks are so soft. I lost my head
so many times. I got sober just hoping my eyes would dry. Still, I drink
so much in my sleep, I can't sleepwalk a straight line to the guest
room or collapse, hang so heavy inside her lungs.
She speaks and
her voice trips across her heartbeat, each word limps into the air. We
are gone, she says. And I am no mortician; I have no idea how to put
make-up on the dead. I have no idea how to unerase, so I just puddle at
the door, my face looking like a deck of falling cards, like
everything's been playing me. We tried so hard. But when I said "give me
a ring", she thought I meant a call. Now I haven't had her number for
two years. We've been saying how many times are we going to keep cutting
these red flags into valentines. You know, all those wars we fought
have turned our shine into rust, we can't even touch each other's hearts
without a tetanus shot.
We can't begin to remember how we forgot
there is no shelter in the womb. The heart forms long before the
ribcage. My mother swore she could feel me kicking weeks before my feet
formed. That's how hard my heart beat -- and it still does. They say the
womb is where we learn love is knowing the cord that feeds you could at
any moment wrap around your neck. I hold my breath for the entire 56
seconds it takes her to walk to the window to stare at the road to tell
me she has nothing left to tell me, we are done, carrying our level
heads in our tornado chests.
For the first time, I know she is
right. As the dawn, after our first date, we were so young, and I hadn't
written an honest love poem yet. I hadn't met anyone I could fall so
hard for 'til the night we kissed on our skateboards, she teased me for
going so slow. I said I never want to catch up with the letting go. I
want the plead in my throat to forever anger my spine and the seams of
your slippers, love, even when the dove crashed through the window, even
when our friends said, you can call it love, but you know Einstein
called himself a pacifist when he built the bomb.
When they ask
why we stayed together for so long I say, I don’t know. I just know that
we cried at the exact same time in every movie. I know we blushed
everyday for the first two years. I know I always stole the covers and
she never woke me up.
I know the exact look on her face, the
first night she used my toothbrush. The next day, I brushed my teeth
like thirtysome times, 'cause I didn't want to let her go. You have to
understand when it hurt to love her, it hurt the way the light hurts
your eyes in the middle of the night, but I had to see, even through the
ruin, if what we were burying were seeds. There were so many plants in
our house, you could rake the leaves even through that winter when I was
trying to make angels in the snow of her cold shoulder. She was still
leaving love notes in my suitcase; I'd always find them.
before I left, I remembered a story her mother told me. She said,
Andrea, when Heather was a little girl, she couldn't fall asleep without
tying a string to her finger all night long, she'd give that string the
tiniest tug to make sure I was still there. And I'd tug back. That was
love. That was love. As easy as that. Sometimes. Sometimes.