I keep to quiet people and quiet places despite the misleading volume of my voice. You bask in the company of hurricanes and fireworks. You brandish your heart in all the outward folds of your body: your sleeve on one day, your back pockets the next, and so on. Never at one place at one time but always somewhere where someone can see it. I left mine as a permanent fixture within my ribcage, protected by cobwebs and the skin of old letters. I keep to books of poetry and people made of paper while you keep to dim nights and the smell of beer. There are those able to reconcile this, but I am not one of them. I will keep to looking out into the many colors of the sky and you will stay cocooned in the warmth of everything within your reach.
We have stopped
speaking in flames.
Some thoughts below.
I remember leaving you on the clearest of nights.
I remember it was you who left, went home. That time we had run too late.
I remember you saying something about me taking care, the soft sling of your fingers loosely planted on my left shoulder.
I remember dreaming of you, but more than that I remember forgetting about that dream.
I remember believing so much in dreams: endless expanses of sky and fishless seas floating with old Victorian ships, the ability to fly, the forgetfulness of falling.
I remember someone saying something about our dreams. How they show us what we want the most, who we want the most.
I remember wanting a boy who played the piano better than he could talk.
I remember learning to play the piano – the bones of my fingers made to curve like hooks dancing on the landscape of keys.
I remember playing in front of an audience, their faces: eyes sworn witnesses to the flitting motion of my fingers, but not the song.
I remember the lullaby my grandmother sung when I was five.
I remember how you said no song could put you to sleep, only the soft movement of fingers across your skin.
I remember falling asleep on that beach as children.
I remember moving away from you when I woke up. Sand scraping my cheek while I inched to escape.
I remember leaving you, asleep and alone. Offering your body to the waves in my childish fear.
I remember your face the next morning we saw each other. I couldn’t tell what it was but I knew something was different.
I remember his face the way I remember yours. Always, the lips and fingers.
I remember interchanging the voices and faces to excuse my faulty memory.
I remember the sound of your laughter.
I remember the closeness of our faces.
I remember pulling away.
I remember leaving.
I remember leaving on the clearest of nights, shrugging the soft sling of your fingers on my shoulder. Our breaths cold as ice.
One day I will forget seeing
the light that shone through your eyes, the sound
of your voice over the telephone – shy and masked
by static. By then, everything we had would have changed
into some memory, accommodating how we have turned to distance,
translating every word exchanged into the past. I wonder how would it feel
to hear you calling my name in that future, a voice ringing
unfamiliar against the shy static.
At The Birthday Party
When he placed his hands on her
that afternoon at their friend’s party,
she felt her heart run
from ribcage to vertebra and out
through her belly-button. It nestled
on the chocolate cake lying half-eaten
on the table. She rushed to pick it up,
but already he had his thin fingers hooking
her chocolate-stained heart, bringing it
towards his mouth, smiling
with pale, sharp teeth, taking
the first bite.
L – “I had this dream of you- well, it wasn’t really you”
M – “What?”
L – “No, I mean, well, I thought it was you, when I woke up I figured he just had your face,”
M – “That doesn’t make sense.”
L- “Of course. It’s a dream. They don’t make sense, but listen to me anyway; it’s raining and we don’t have anywhere to go,”
M – “Okay.”
L – “You had this light blue shirt on, that’s the brightest thing I remember seeing. It was pretty plain like most of your other shirts. I think we were indoors – your house – and we were eating lunch, the sun was up then, gliding in through the thinly-grilled windows. I was wearing a white dress. White because I assumed that was your favorite color-”
M – “You’ve never been to my house. And white? My favorite…?”
L – “Well, you always wore white. Remember the first few days we knew each other in school? You were always the boy wearing a white shirt. But that day you wore blue, for some reason. Anyway, I forgot what we were talking about, or if we were even talking about anything, but then you stood up,”
M – “And?”
L – “And then we were outside: a wide field stretching out like a watercolor painting in front of us. I can’t remember if I saw mostly green or yellow. Just a field, with lots and lots of sun: different from here, no gray clouds flying above. Just a clear, blue sky. I looked at you and you were smiling for some reason. I didn’t ask you why you were smiling,”
M – “Why didn’t you ask?”
L – “Because I didn’t see it necessary to ask you. There are some things you don’t need to ask, I think. And you were smiling. That was a rare thing: you, smiling, being happy. I didn’t want to do anything that might make you feel differently. I like you that much, you know? Oh hey, look, the rain stopped.”
M – “But that was a dream-”
L – “That didn’t mean I had to treat you differently. Just because it was a dream didn’t change how I felt-”
M – “How did you feel?”
L – “You’re really asking me that? You know how I feel. Watch out for the puddles, they’ll ruin your shoes. You’ve always known.”
M – “I know, but I need to remember. I can’t remember you saying it. And where’s that fog coming from?”
L – “You really can’t remember? Wow, that kind of hurts. It was the one thing I told you well enough before – I’m sure you’re just kidding me. Remember, that day: the sun was out and we were on a clear field. You held my hand,”
M – “But I’ve always held your hand,”
L – “No, silly. Before that all you’ve ever held were my shoulders, and in class. Asking me about homework you already knew about, patting me good morning; you and your distant look. Can’t you remember, really?”
M – “No, I can’t. Help me remember. Hey, don’t go! I need you to tell me-”
L – “I’m sorry but I’m really late. I need to get back before the rain returns, and I already told you, over and over, back then,”
M – “Wait! I know you’ve said it before; I just need you to say it again, now, this time.”
L – “You know I can’t. Not after all this time. Please, try to remember. We don’t have much time. Remember,”
M – “But I really can’t-”
L – “I had this dream of you…”