Summer will always remind me of hot, sweltering nights spent drinking sangria, through the dripping fairy lights of your bedroom window. A sticky, starry sky looked back at us, the glow of the moon almost golden in the heat. Fourteen meant we weren't growing up fast enough and a liquor cabinet key seemed to hold the answer to that problem.
You taught me how to drink that night.
(You also showed me how beautiful it was to just hold your breath till your head spins and reality seems like it is going to fade further and further away.)
Six summers ago I met a boy who liked to tell me how much like summer I was. He was big boned and thin skinned and the first time I told him he wasn't mine to keep, he left handprints on my skin that reminded you of a canvas covered in autumn leaves that you saw in New York. Then you proceeded to break every single window in his house (Yes, even the one in the attic he loved so much.)
You taught me how to smile through heartbreak that night.
(You also showed me how to breathe through the broken pain that came from a pair of violent hands that didn't know how to accept themselves in any other way.)
We took our easels up to the woods that hot summer day and didn't speak until we were both finished our paintings. I just drew a face. I always drew the same face. When you showed me what you had made, I saw angry slashes of red across a vacant canvas, a pair of scarlet lips open in its center, as though in a silent scream. When I looked at you, your face was shiny...not with sweat, but with tears.
"What is it?"
You taught me how to draw more than faces that day.
(You showed me what it was like to breathe in a life into a thing that was too broken to breathe by itself.)
It has been four summers, seventeen days, twelve hours, twenty three minutes and ten seconds since the most beautiful service I have ever seen. Your mother was pale, but always graceful in her kindness, in her wisdom. She asked me to speak for you. She asked me to tell people what you were like.
If she had given me a year, maybe I could do justice to you. So instead, I told them about the movie we had watched based on our favourite novel where a man had been held trial for a crime he never committed and forgotten on a prison island somewhere in the middle of the ocean. I told them about how he slowly lost his powerful faith in God, and how one day...he was saved, redeemed and given back his life. I told them about that moment, the electricity, the elation we had both felt in the second.
To me, you are the electricity I felt in that moment.
To me, you were the saviour who caused my freedom. To me, you were the elation of a moment where your world, your life, your whole being changes for the better.
That is what you were like. That is who you will always be.
In the end, it was you who taught my summers to breathe. In the end, you taught me to be a novel, not just a summer read.
this is a poem about how fixing people is not romantic. we’re not meant to be somebody’s answer, we’re not meant to make someone feel alive again.
this is a poem about why you shouldn’t kiss him because he’s broken because you want to save him.
save yourself first. kiss him because he holds a place in your heart, not because he's the only thing making it pump. kiss him because he’s in your life, not because he is your life.
hold him, but don’t hold onto him because you believe you’re drowning. (get to dry land first.)
this is a poem about how i find poetry in everything. breakups. my dad telling me i mattered.
nightmares. my neighbor’s insomnia. how it drove him crazy. how he swallowed a bottle of sleeping pills to fix it.
my neighbor’s funeral.
this is a poem about the split-apart theory.
the idea was that when humanity became arrogant toward the gods, we were split in two and were doomed to spend our lives searching for our other halves.
i’m sorry, but i don’t like the idea that we are born incomplete. we are born whole. with age, pieces of us are just taken away and we try to fill in the spaces.
your body, your life, is a house and if there are holes, empty rooms, don’t give the key to strangers with pretty eyes and velvet voices who don’t belong.
you’ll know who’s worth keeping. they may not give you pieces but they will take nothing away. they will not rent themselves to you, they’ll let you move in and your edges will click against one another.
they will leave you be and they will say, “let’s be imperfect together.”
this is a poem about drinking.
don’t risk getting drunk just so you’re brave enough to kiss him. don’t risk waking up not remembering the feel of his lips and the push of his body on yours.
because you will, eventually. you will feel that sloppy mouth
and you will feel regret.
this is a poem about what i remember.
i can point to any line i ever wrote and tell you exactly what i felt as the words came out of me, if the ink blotted with tears, if i smiled and dotted the i’s with hearts.
at one point i’m pretty sure i knew where i wanted to go; i had a path and a goal at the end. i dreamed of a husband and two little boys, and a house in colorado.
then, nothing. no husband, no goal, no path.
i want to know where it went but i’m still not sure if i veered off the path or if it steered away from me.
this is a poem about the day i woke up, and where everything had once been, stood nothing.
this is also a poem about what i don’t remember.
this is a poem about irony.
irony is my neighbor eating a bottle of sleeping pills because he just wanted to sleep.
irony is how he’ll sleep forever now.
(irony is that he didn’t fucking deserve that.)
humans are the most sensitive species. our skin is fragile, and we have no fur. we bleed easily.
we know when to stop, when it hurts too much, when to save our own lives.
we are weak, and exposed, and vulnerable. we are born crying, and it's okay to cry now, however many years it's been.
this is a poem about us, and how i love you all.
this is not a poem about the difference between any cut and a broken heart because, i've found, the pain is nearly the same.
this is a poem about recovery.
talk about what hurts. call your mother, call your father and take your time. write it down where you won't remember.
“Actually, I hate horoscopes. They lie every single damned time.”
“Not to me they don’t.”
“Sure. You were saying something.”
“We need to break up.”
“I fell in love with you before you were the boy who sang about my problems in your songs, and before you tried to evolve me into your version of a better me and before I saw how you treated your neighbour’s dog and before I knew how much you believed in horoscopes.”
“What’s wrong with horoscopes?”
“Nothing, except for the fact that you never really thought of it as a novel idea that you share the same day as one twelfth of the world.”
“Well you aren’t-”
“I’m not so perfect myself, I know. You loved me better before you read my poetry and understood how damaged I was and knowing about my temper tantrums and wished I wasn’t so intensely passionate about my pipe dreams.”
“Everything is always so logically put with you.”
“What do you expect? I gave you my heart a year and a half ago and you’ve had them both beating in your chest to keep you strong. Now you’re going to give it back, all broken and damaged and I'm going to break with it.”
“This is it, then.”
“It’s been a long time coming.”
“You already knew?”
“Oh baby. I knew it was broken the minute I began to look at horoscopes to tell me how we were going to make it through the day.”
I took your adjectives for granted. There was something about the way you skipped over your 's'es and gleaned over your 'i's and 'e's, that never really made me want to kiss you. You'd sit there with your languid fingers clutching a book that was half finished, and read me words that were completely mispronounced. It would prickle me under my skin and I would grit my teeth, wondering when you would stop. I would never understand the english language you thought you spoke, and your confidence in your own words annoyed me.
It was comical when you spoke in front of our friends. Your mistaken pronunciation of the word 'pronunciation' in particular made them giggle. I would stand in a corner, clutching a glass of rum and coke and cringe, flushing in second hand embarrassment. You would smile at me from across the room, and continue with your tangled tongue as though nothing was wrong.
I felt sorry for you. But not sorry enough when you took your favourite writing pen from my desk, your dog eared thesaurus and left my apartment for the last time. I would lie if I said I wasn't relieved for the respite from mistaken english and broken words.
It took them screaming at each other next door, the rejection letter arriving, my finger joints beginning to ache for me to realise; I missed your easy enunciation of the word 'beautiful', the crescendo in 'adoration' and yes, even the fluidity in 'talented'. The way your fingers curved at the typewriter, now made me misunderstand my own at the keyboard of a computer.*
I called you today, and you told me she is an English Major, and she loves you most when you argue with your vowels.
You always did speak a language I would never be wise enough to understand.
*I wish most I had remembered the perfect D shape your arm made, when I rested my head on it.
he was winterish blue eyes and an autumn scarf dressed in an stupid pink summer sweater that made no sense on a spring day. His shoes were converse, the kind of the skinny intellectual who had just enough money to buy one pair of decent shoes. she never really liked skinny intellectuals, yet did find herself considering them sometimes, in the way she considered coffee that was tongue scalding (horribly and without excuse).
it is odd then, that she still doesn't regret his monsoon flavoured kiss, the kind that made your tongue bleed with its passion, its heat.
he drew in uneasy catches of breath as he snored in the heat of the summer night, nights when she would stay up and listen to cars that passed by, pretending they were a waterfall instead of the cold harsh truth of metal against concrete, just so she could sleep as soundly as him.
she took his breathing for granted.
he spent hours lost in the dry unending silence of his typewriter, of his word making, and yes, even of his long walks that become longer everyday. autumn, like his autumn scarf inspired him, he insisted, forgetting to eat, forgetting to sleep, forgetting to drink; forgetting her.
all for the secrets of cinnamon perfume and plum lipstick that he was always covered in when he returned from these long 'walks'.
no wonder he would never hold her until he washed his hands when he returned. they had been too busy holding the curves of a frame too delicate to be hers.
he left his autumn scarf under the broken little bed when he left with a waif of a girl, her mouth covered in plum lipstick. she chose to forget it there, or else her lungs might collapse when she saw it...and she couldn't afford to forget to breathe.
even if breathing seemed like a luxury now.
she still hates the rain, the way it reminds her of how she will never be cinnamon flavoured or wear plum lipstick or waif like enough for him to kiss again.
her mouth is too soft and thin, her scent too seasonal, her bones too big.
she still hates the rain because there is something of a dark epiphany about watching your life fall to pieces like droplets in an open window and doing nothing at all to stop it.