You wake up healthy
but you don’t feel right. Now everything’s
backwards and you’re thinking of someone to blame.
And you do, you’re lucky,
drinking coffee was easy, the traffic’s
moving along, you’re like
everyone else just trying to get through the day
and the place you’re dreaming of seems possible—
somewhere to get to.
All you really know
is that it hurts here, the way feelings
are bigger than we are, and a woman’s face
in a third-story window, her limp hair
and the pots of red geraniums luring you
into her suffering until you’re walking on roads
inscribed in your own body. The maps
you never speak of. Intersections, train stations,
roadside benches, the names of places and
people you’ve known all bearing the weight
of cashing a check or your having to eat something,
of glimpsing the newspaper’s ghoulish headlines.
Like everyone else, you think,
the struggle is toward a better time, though
no pressure surrounds the house you were born in.
Cool, quieter, a vast primitive light
where nothing happens but the sound
of your sole self breathing.
And you’ve decisions to make. Isn’t that why
you’ve come? with a bald-headed man at the bar
and your friends all over the place, anxious,
tired, a little less sturdy than you’d hoped for
and needing someone to kick around, someone to love.
You wake up healthy
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There are two versions of every life.
In the first one, you get a mother, a father,
your very own room.
You learn to walk, which is only done by walking.
You learn the past tense of have, which is hunger.
You learn to ask almost anything
is to ask it to be over,
as when the lover asks the other
“Are you sleeping? Are you beginning
to go away?”
(And whether or not you learn it, life does not penetrate
more than five miles above the earth
or reach more than three miles beneath the sea.
Life is eight miles long.
You could walk it, and be there before sundown.
Or swim it, or fall it, or crawl it.)
The second is told from the point
of view of the sky.
-By Christina Davis
Why did I believe you would come out of nowhere? Why with all
that the world offers would you come only because I was here?
—mark strand - “black sea”
Four weeks in, quarreling and far
from home, we came to the loneliest place.
A western railroad town. Remember?
I left you at the campsite with greasy pans
and told our children not to follow me.
The dying light had made me desperate.
I broke into a hobbled run, across tracks,
past warehouses with sun-blanked windows
to where a playground shone in a wooded clearing.
Then I was swinging, out over treetops.
I saw myself never going back, yet
whatever breathed in the mute woods
was not another life. The sun sank.
I let the swing die, my toes scuffed earth,
and I was rocked into remembrance
of the girl who had dreamed the life I had.
Through night, dark at the root, I returned to it.
—"Family Vacation" by Judith Slater
i don’t know when love became elusive
what i know, is that no one i know has it
my fathers arms around my mothers neck
fruit too ripe to eat, a door half way open
when your name is just a hand i can never hold
everything i have ever believed in, becomes magic.
i think of lovers as trees, growing to and
from one another searching for the same light,
my mothers laughter in a dark room,
a photograph greying under my touch,
this is all i know how to do, carry loss around until
i begin to resemble every bad memory,
every terrible fear,
every nightmare anyone has ever had.
i ask did you ever love me?
you say of course, of course so quickly
that you sound like someone else
i ask are you made of steel? are you made of iron?
you cry on the phone, my stomach hurts
i let you leave, i need someone who knows how to stay.
—"the unbearable weight of staying" by Warsan Shire
Unanswered texts. Flaking out on plans. Silences.
Lack of eye contact.
That time you left me at the bar to go snort coke.
-you’re not listening stop interrupting me-
Arguing over who puts in more effort.
Feeling pathetic for putting in more effort.
Doubting whether I put in more effort, hating myself for spending so much time thinking about you.
Pretending to be fine.
I changed your name in my phone to “Asshole.”
I like your roommates better than you, maybe because they notice me.
Wish I could take back that loaf of banana bread and hit you with it,
wish I could rip apart that copy of Infinite Jest I got you for Christmas when all you got me was a throat infection, remember that time we were supposed to see The Bowerbirds for your birthday and you bailed on me again, again-
Remember trying to get on rooftops?
Getting high and realizing that voice messages are wormholes to the future, and the past-
What would I go back and tell myself? What would I hear?
Two dumb kids. Laughter. Needing each other.
I couldn’t go three days without you.
I just went two months without you.
I don’t think we should be friends anymore.
Because it hurts to think of you, and care about you, and wait for you to fucking call me. Because I don’t know why you keep calling me just to decide later that it’s too cold for you to see me, don’t-
Because you’ve changed. Or maybe I’ve changed, but anyways I can’t un-see the swagger in your shoulders and the cockiness in your eyes and I don’t remember the sound of your laugh, only your snicker and
my stomach clenches when I think of going down on you.
I don’t want a relationship, I just hate that you would treat me like
just some girl.
Friendships aren’t supposed to be painful. One person shouldn’t make the other feel optional. And I am tired of
waiting for that
person you used to be
to come back.
You’re just a phone call away but if you don’t answer you might as well be anywhere
I don’t want to be friends anymore. Because this drifting is tearing me apart. Because you’re a coward, and a dick, and I’ll at least have the decency to say it’s over. After all these years, I’ll at least say goodbye.