I’m thinking about having sex with you.
She found the note tacked to her apartment door, and sealed with a kiss. It’d been pinned there by a nine-pointed throwing-star, like the kind used in the book Neuromancer. The writing was effeminate, the i’s dotted with little hearts.
I’m thinking about your body.
She carried the note around with her for days, looking suspiciously up and down various streets, trying to imagine who would left such a thing. She held her breath when she walked through cross-walks. She blinked twice at every red light.
I’m thinking about getting to know you.
She didn’t talk to anybody about it. She didn’t really have any friends; she knew people, but they didn’t know her, not really. Not that she had secrets. More that she was an unknown. A speculative event. An example of pure potential, right before it became something else. Maybe.
I’m thinking about the camera I put behind your bathroom mirror.
She looked at herself in that mirror, and imagined unimaginable eyes upon her. A stranger’s gaze, touching her all over. She touched herself in front of the mirror, daydreaming that her fingertips belonged to someone else. She lost herself in her own curve, in the grooves that made up her fingerprints. She was every inch, unique and undefined by others.
I’m thinking that we could maybe be close, someday.
There was no disaster, no calamity. It never went entirely wrong. But one day she slipped into the bathtub, looking for all the world like a suicide about to happen. Tired, sad, and sick of this world. And it was then, it was only then, as she rested her weary form into the deep, dark waters, that it came.
Just barely able to be heard.
At the door.
I can’t remember the autumn we went mad together. There was a time when all I wanted to do was say sorry. It was the same months that I couldn’t finish my morning mascara without crying it all off. It was the same season that I lost 35 lbs. The same season that I only wrote about you and pretended I wasn’t writing about you but everyone knew I was and nobody wanted to say anything because they knew that I would crumble right there in front of them. It was the season of loss and grief and letting go of the parts of me that had hardened and cracked me in half.
You were all the holes in my favorite sweater. You were the thing I wanted to throw away, but I was scared my mother would be disappointed. You were the perfect lover for a woman that I was never going to be. You were gentle and kind and too many fragile pieces for my hands meant for digging.
The day I fell in love with you was the day you wore those plaid pants. We sat in the back of the theatre and you couldn’t stop sweating. I was wearing fishnets. You kissed my entire body the way a painter touches his painting the moment he knows he’s finished. My hair was long and yours was short. We danced down the street and we couldn’t wait to be alone that night. To be in the dark, in the silent, in the space that only we existed.
I can’t remember the last night we slept next to each other. I only remember you in the dark sitting under the window. The storm was so thick, the blinds so fragile. The candle had withered away and we had no more to light. We were so far apart in that dark room, I couldn’t even make out your face.
The day we broke, I can’t remember the color of the walls. What I wore or who I spoke to. I only remember hearing your voice cut through the silence like a buck knife. There was no one else. There was no one else worth remembering- not even myself. That autumn, I learned how to tuck myself underneath all that shit we’d piled on top of our love. All that yelling and all those things we couldn’t remember how to let go from our fists.
I finally stopped calling you, but I never stopped wondering how your heart was. There is not a man that I love more than you, and there is not one that I hate as much, either.
Most days I think of you more often than I don’t. Sometimes I cry and I can’t explain to anyone why I’m sitting on the streetcar covered in my own snot. There are days when everyone is chanting your name like a dare I can’t get away from, and days I can’t see you at all.
That’s the thing about love- it never really leaves, it never really stays, either.
My fire-eating career came to an end
when I could no longer tell
when to spit and when
Last night in Amsterdam,
1,000 tulips burned to death.
I have an alibi. When I walked by
your garden, your hand
grenades were in bloom.
You caught me playing
loves me, loves me
not, metal pins between my teeth.
I forget the difference
ignition and cognition. I am a girl
vices and you have a filthy never
mind. If you say no, twice,
it’s a four-letter word.
You are so dirty, people have planted
flowers on you: heliotropes. sun-
flowers. You’ll take
anything. Loves me,
loves me not.
I want to bend you over
and whisper: “potting soil,” “fresh
cut.” When you made
the urgent fists of peonies
a proposition, I stole a pair of botanists’
hands. Green. Confident. All thumbs.
I look sharp in garden
shears and it rained spring
all night. 1,000 tulips
burned to death
We didn’t hear the sirens.
All night, you held my alibis
so softly, like taboos
— Daphne Gottlieb, “Why Things Burn”
II. At twelve your body becomes a currency. So Jenny and I sat down and cut up all our clothes into nothing. That year I failed math class but knew the exact number of calories in a carrot stick. I learned early being desired goes hand in hand with hunger.
III. The last time I tried to scream I felt my father climbing up through my throat and into my mouth.
IV. There is a certain kind of girl who reads Lolita at fourteen and finds religion. I painted my eyes black and sucked barroom cherries to red my tongue. There was a boy who promised Judas really did love Jesus. I learned early every kiss and betrayal are up for interpretation.
V. I think he must have conferenced with my nightmares on exactly how to hurt me.
VI. He never broke my heart. He only turned it into a compass that always points me back to him.
— Clementine von Radics, In Defense of Loving Him
I want to wrap around you like the moon curling in on herself
You, my core, my heart
The opposite that eats me up, hungry
Let me smother you with light
You are not safe inside these walls built around you,
you starving mouth
you violent end
You belong in that endless being
sea or sky
Remember the moment
you learned that loving someone
could shut them up
and devour it
We are only through with being scared
not being wild
And sometimes Liz writes really great poetry about me that other people should read and that I want to squish her face for. <3<3<3
here. I want to lick your sparrow claws come
here. I want to cut your sorrows out
you’re hollowed out. Come here.
I want to suck your fingers off.
I want to give you your history back.
Your fingers back. I want to tell you yes.
Come back. I want to show you my pressure,
my heavy, my opened and clothes, my under
and o’s. Come here. I want to finger
your bones back. I want to sew your bones back
I want to re-blood your history.
I want to undo you like a mystery
novel. Is this the kitchen? The table-saw?
Is this your memory? Your tree-dream? You’re declawed.
I want to give you your teeth back. Your teeth marks.
I want to spit back your teeth-pull. I want to unhinge your heart-jaws.
Come here. I want to sit you down on the bed and give you back
my years. Here. I breathed your name into the leaves.
Here. I breathed you back into the trees. Here. This is your tree-dream
this is your tree-house, this is a bedroom, this is a silver broom
this is a shallow dream. This is my tree-dirt, my bee shirt.
This is my honey-stalk and these are your climbing shoes.
Harmonica me to sleep again. Put your sparrow on my back skin."
a sudden glow. Here is my hand, my heart,
my throat, my wrist. Here are the illuminated
cities at the center of me, and here is the center
of me, which is a lake, which is a well that we
can drink from, but I can’t go through with it.
I just don’t want to die anymore."
— Richard Siken, “Saying Your Names”
In the first story, no one dies. In the first story, no one loses any limbs and no one forgets to breathe. You get a house of violets. You get a vase of doorknobs from everyone that has left their door open for you. Even when it is dark outside you can see all of the people that have stayed in your house made of water and brick. After the first heartbreak, the men still smile. They do not smell of rot or mold or a burnt down house.
The second story is the same. Except this time, there is no one around. The house is still reeking of flowers and there is honey where the bees once were. There is no worry of the people that are not there this time. The honey is different this time. It is there, but it is tasteless. You have forgotten the taste of it, so you do not know that it is not what it is. It takes a whole life to remember the first story. It takes an eternity of rowing endlessly through the river. It is not until the third story that the river is overflowing.
You begin to breathe heavy and understand why the fish only have gills. Why the fish cannot row the boat, and you cannot swim beneath it. You begin to count each breath for the life that it is. The in and the outs of it. You understand the flowers now. You understand the honey and it’s birth from the belly of the bees. You understand the house and all of it’s knobs gone missing. You see the flames. You understand why the river swallows the things beneath it. You do not understand the rot.
You learn of the rot in the fourth story.