Oh, how all the time between now and childhood stretches out before me
a knit scarf pulling apart. All the time between now and childhood
I have ached after you often in the manner of a child.
It twists the knife in me to know
the woman that I am has always been
lapping after your gaze
like a hound.
When I picture the devil, he still looks like you.
The sight of you, moving through a crowd. The misting heat of bodies and too-bright lights. The weight of all my wanting got the building condemned. Its paint now shelters strangers.
But this, this goes in the pile of pains that help me know I’m alive.
It’s that urge to be a part of someone’s sense of adventure, to grip every moment of the world in my teeth and shake it. To look everyone dead in the eye. To climb fences and grab hands and grin with all our crooked teeth until the end. To try to feel everything we can until it’s gone. To try to find all the right words and the right people to say them to.
You drop into my life like a slap in the face and then you’re gone again, but it brings the blood to my cheeks. This is not only self-destruction; the way I burn down when you’re around means I have to rebuild and remember. Phoenix, phoenix, unhinge my jaw for you and let my heart drop into my lap, because I am stronger than I used to be.
I didn’t know who I was when I met you, and sometimes even now, the hair falling across your brow can make me forget. I am shedding the same tears, but every time I put myself back together I hope that I am slightly more aligned. Not for you, never for you, but for myself. My heart breaks every time I look at you, but it is the cracking of ice on the river, and the river will flow.