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    Sunday, January 6, 2013

    Andrea Gibson

    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.

    The day 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.

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