Returning to my apartment in winter
on a Friday after dancing—
my temperature leveled out, my sweat
meeting the chill in the air, the trees
noticeable but the stars
indiscernible in the city’s pink fog—
I almost called to say,
Look how happy I feel!
But I already knew what you would say,
That’s good, I’m glad,
and I knew where you’d be, in a bar,
not alone, pale, eyes half-closed,
a dog with hazel eyes, flinching.
What I’ve felt these past weeks
is not unique,
is ordinary, like sniffles,
like shin splints, like stove burns—
the kind of things that make us ask
if we haven’t been paying attention
to how our bodies obey our minds—
ordinary, like sex remembered
after months of other people,
a conversation where you’re trying
to match a voice to a face.
I’ve found it can be replaced.
Love, with more love, from more people.
For example, I’ve acquired a few friends
I didn’t know I had those nights
I couldn’t hold my face together
and divulged what we said in secret
until it spoiled like fruit
left out on a table. I’d like to say:
Our still life is ours.
But in a few months or years,
I’ll be standing in a dimly lit bathroom
with the window open,
with a chill on my back,
and when he closes the window
and we go back to bed,
I won’t be thinking of you
as you aren’t thinking of me now,
as we won’t think of each other except
by accident of memory,
and then we won’t have to know
if it was worth it.
These days are like nights: quiet, curious, grey.
I climb the walls with my sight and—
troubled lamp, flicker until I’m done.
Asleep, but bathed in shadow, then in light, then
in shadow. Company is a twin bed
and the fridge’s metered hum. Undone, undone.
I’m done. A dream in the afternoon is a violent
one—bodies pressing thorns and the people
I’ve loved, all dying before I could save them.
It’s just a dream, but each day is as the day
before now, a concentrated silence
in which I ask where I am going and why it is
I should do nothing as the night becomes a solace
and other people’s children are tucked in bed.