I try to remember the last time I could finish a sentence without wanting to chew off my own tongue; I must have been sitting here for hours. My mother comes in places a hand on my shoulder and says “Honey, try and get some rest” I bite my tongue and tell her that I’ve been trying to rest for nearly twenty years and I just can’t seem to find a place to rest my head that fits. She sighs leaves the room, she’s never known what to say, and I am exactly like her. I fold into myself like an origami, push myself back into the shape of that summer when you started smoking and I sat in the window of that skeleton house, watched the cherry of your cigarettes bob through the field in the dark and wondered if sometimes fireflies mistook you for a light house, or a savior, or a witch hunt burning everyone they ever knew alive. I unfold, fall asunder into the bottom of my tub, stare up at the mold on the ceiling and pray that it will choke me in my sleep, an accident waiting to happen, like all the mornings I’ve almost fallen asleep at the wheel or stared for too long at a bottle of pills. Dear friend, do you remember when we were nothing, lost kids dodging street lamps and my anger, we were breathe and vapor and we couldn’t be contained except by each other. But then you left and I spread out stretched too thin, a ghost of your breathe on a January morning. I’m that skeleton house with strangers living inside. I was a lion, a vanguard and a vagabond, I fought your wars and I slayed all of your dragons, I was your safety net your personified alibi. Shame you didn’t know that you were already guilty by association. We lived on the front lines, carried grenades with the pins pulled clenched between our teeth, if we were going down, we were going down together, or so I dreamed. You were the only one who survived; my S.O.S fell on deaf ears for nearly three years before I was found buried beneath the rubble of my own land mind. I am a rabbit, a jester and a dragon. I bite my tongue to keep the fire from spilling out you were the last person I ever wanted to burn.
On my lover’s back, there are
forty-three freckles. His caramel skin,
flecked with moments where the sun
burnt too brightly (and seared God-crafted
flesh). He tells me of the days
when he would run naked in the shade of mountains,
wearing scarves and mittens and gumboots,
but nothing to cover his modesty.
Between nature and he,
there was only openness,
and God saw everything.
I trace his freckles with my tongue,
mapping out Andromeda, Cassiopeia, Perseus,
before Dante’s Inferno bursts into a thousand fiery pieces
(and they settle inside our lungs, burning poetry
and our love in order to keep us warm
in the winter).
My lover has a freckle shaped like Alaska,
which rests just above the corner of his lips.
When he smiles,
my heart thumps seismically,
and my world seems to shift.
Continents realign, simply because
his smile ignites realms I had long forgotten
in the dark corners of my heart.
After the universe has contracted, expanded—
after our bodies have coalesced in the dusk—
I will trace his freckles down his piano spine
with my aching fingertips,
and revel in the goosebumps that whisper in his flesh,
for I know:
he feels me,
& I am alive.