You were waiting at the bus stop, with starfish clips in your hair;
with ear-buds tucked in your ears, through which
Sunset Boulevard melodies streamed into your memory,
but you weren't as broken as you appeared to be..
Oh no, my faithful Bliss, I hate to break it to you,
but you don't look nearly as invisible and inconsequential as you feel inside;
and who am I to say so, to know better, you ask.
Well, I'm just a guy who's been around, peering over the ivy and red-brick wall
that you've built up around your ego, your swift live-fast-die-young reputation;
a penchant for trouble, excitement and dancing heartbeats.
Girl, you never saw me coming, and granted; I didn't know you, either,
but I was still there, I can assure you; on the margins of your memory,
your day-to-day schedule, like a blurry Monet landscape.
I had only heard of you in passing, at parties on the beach,
after-midnight bonfires; all crackling wood-chips and sea-salt,
the taste of caramel and root beer on my lips, the taste of
a quick shallow kiss from a girl who wasn't quite a friend
and not exactly a lover, either.
Oh before you get all defensive, Bliss,
wondering what kind of gossip I heard,
you should know that the way that people whispered about you was
how old-time sailors used to spin out tales of sirens;
vivid and often exaggerated descriptions of half-fish-half-human females
rising from the wicked gray-green sea,
enchanting men with their voices, coaxing
only the lowest of treasure-hunting fools into the water
below their ships' bows, luring blind mortals with tinkling jade-like arias.
Oh yes, they spoke about you in a way
that made me doubt whether or not you were actually real,
somehow just a loser's fantasy of a street-wise drifter
with peach-tinted skin and captivating sage-green eyes.
They said that you were some kind of pickpocket with an unknown accomplice;
with a getaway car and a taser that you kept hidden
either in your purse or underneath whatever cocktail dress
that you had swiped from someone else's clothesline.
According to my peers, you always targeted the rich and deluded
belles and bachelors of our Southern Comfort society,
never batting an eyelash at authority, at police officers
or stocky security guards at ritzy clubs;
white-collar bars that were your playground, because
word on the street was that you could run faster than any gazelle,
sprinting breathlessly away from a lion or other savanna predator.
Oh girl, I was sure that these stories sounded too far-fetched to be
based on anything close to reality, in the same vicinity
as your unrecorded presence; all sneaker footprints on melting tar
and concrete chipped sidewalks, broken bicycle chains
and screwdrivers, pale pink ballerina slippers.
But as it turned out; much to my surprise and admitted curiosity,
those people spreading gossip as a way of passing time
between history and calculus classes, choir practice and sit-down family dinners;
those people that I had considered to be gullible and drunk, high
off cocaine and wine spritzers, had gotten a few things right, after all.
For starters, girl, you really were sly and nymph-like, to the bone.
Yeah, even in frayed jeans and a Goodwill hoodie, you wore this modern era so well,
adopting an attitude that screams “free-bird”, a curious way of carrying yourself
over the crumbling Projects; these caving tin rooftops, like you didn't give a damn
how much you have to lose, which is nothing too precious,
like you were constantly living on the edge
because you knew no other way of breathing
Indian Paintbrush fire through chlorine-flooded lungs.
With no swimming-suit on, you leaped into the ocean; like a tiny October suicide-baby,
because I dared you to and you fired back at me with all the bullets you had saved up
on the tip of your tart raspberry-tongue,
refusing to swallow the bile of ever being wrong, ever sounding frightened or panicked;
no, not even a little bit, like a brown-and-white cottontail rabbit.
Oh but I have to tell you now, girl, before it's too late; that I was the one at fault,
that I was the one who spoke out of ignorance, out of pain and anger;
pride damaged by a death in the family that tore me apart, ages ago.
Now, reading the emptiness in your round marsh-green eyes,
you're my starlit silent fighter in Rock n' Roll t-shirt sleeves;
and I know that no excuse or apology I make will ever justify
taking your feelings for granted, mocking the cause of your long-carried depression.
No, god knows; it will never make us even, but I am still determined to keep trying
to prove my worth, my courage, the right to stand beside you
and share the burden, under tainted urban wire-lit cerulean skies.
Spitfire street-kid, yeah; I guess some people would assume
that this is all you're made of, taking into account the way
you dress and float around in trail-beaten sneakers, ironically,
with the gold ring that your father gave you still sparkling on your pinkie-finger;
with the word “goodbye” permanently scratched out of the travel-sized dictionary
that you carry in the pocket of your heavy-duty army-green hooded jacket.
“Oh she's a character!” people mutter as you walk past.
But I smirk silently to myself, knowing just how wrong they really are
for judging and labeling you like that because
the truth is that this wild-child persona is not the real you at all..
And even if my friends ask me, “How exactly do you know that?”,
I'll never tell them how you taught me your secret code of misplaced honor, girl;
how you showed me the trick to getting away with murder and other delicate crimes,
as swiftly as a garden snake in summer, explaining that:
“Character is what you do when nobody is watching”.
And I know you embellished on this meaning off of a famous quote,
but to tell you the truth, I found that I still admired you for it;
how you took whatever life threw at you and molded it to suit your purpose.
And yeah, some folks may claim that you're nothing but a cold-hearted swindler,
a tramp who thinks she's too clever and witty, too ruthless
to ever get caught; that it's only a matter of time
before she's cornered with her back against a wall,
fighting for survival, just like everybody she has ever mocked.
But I refuse to believe it to be true, girl, because I have more faith in you..
Even taking into account, your split-end thorns and roses, sugar-skull persona;
your old dusty sweatshirt and frayed denim shorts, your gladiator sandals and,
the tough windblown drifter-spirit that is still there,
still visible underneath your desolate shadow, even then;
what people tend to miss is the subtle irony,
glittering like sunlight on your tiniest baby finger,
the gold band that your father gifted you not long before
his car skidded across the Crescent City bridge,
going over the railing and causing a shattering explosion
that led to him drowning in the deep gray-blue star-illuminated haunted River Delta.
Oh girl, funnily enough; despite our differences,
I know exactly what it's like to be misjudged, every time you step out your front door.
Yes, Bliss, believe it or not, I know how you must feel when people in town;
at school or in the hospital, at the convenience store,
practically everywhere, look at you with suspicious eyes, claiming that
you're trash, even before you open your mouth.
Yes, I know because it's so goddamn frustrating
how whenever I walk into any Claiborne establishment,
people immediately assume that I don't belong, that I'm a thug, a low-life;
their eyes following my every move, waiting anxiously
for a slip-up on my part, for a confirmation from above that I am indeed
the immoral and conceited, lawless scum of the earth.
Oh you don't have to tell me about prejudice, girl,
because when the skin you were born in is as coffee-brown; as dark as mine,
you learn early on that ignoring this kind of thing and moving on,
choosing not to hide from the sun, no matter how
scorching hot and uncomfortable it is out in the open, amid blaring car horns,
sirens and shouted slurs; it's easier said than done..
Yeah, I'll even go as far as to say that sometimes it's almost impossible, sweetheart.
And I remember one of our earliest arguments, how you fired back at me
when I accused you of playing up your “white privilege” stance;
making yourself out to be a victim, when you weren't one, really.
I insisted that you could be reckless to your heart's content
because nobody would suspect a thing, looking like you did; like
a long-lost Hollywood starlet, a milk-carton poster child that the entire nation was
fighting to find alive and healthy, humming Willy Wonka show-tunes
and begging to be taken home, with big Jolly Rancher green eyes
on an innocent Puritan Christian face that no one could say no to.
Oh I'm so sorry that I said all those things, that I was mean and somewhat of a hypocrite,
because I had no idea that just a few hours before, you had almost
been assaulted by a monster; a low-life rich bastard on a night-washed sidewalk,
pressed up against the wall of a speed-chase high club, groped and
almost stripped of your clothes, of your spinel-blue compass-heart humanity.
Girl, you told me about that later; after I'd said some stupidly awful things,
convinced that you were a plain clean-bandit by choice, in comparison to me.
Bliss, you told me that there is really no such thing as unified justice.
Indeed, you scoffed and said that I had some nerve,
accusing you of acting entitled and eternally smug,
when I was the one attending classes at a private religious school.
And you know something, girl? You were right..
I was way out of line, perhaps projecting my own anger and insecurities onto you.
I did apologize later, as we sat on the cold floor of an abandoned church,
gazing at our reflections, mirrored through painted-glass windows;
two very different specimens of the same old Southern Comfort experience,
realizing that discrimination, as it turns out, goes every which way.
And truth be told; if I were to follow you down the river to your old neighborhood,
I most likely would find tiny squares of dried lime-green grass,
surrounded by chain-link fences and simple taupe houses,
hearing the blaring noise of police sirens down every other street,
every other chipped and chalk-paved corner.
Yes, Bliss; inside your home, I would find your mother,
who's seen better days, all wrapped up in a fluffy pink blanket on the couch.
Watching soap operas and smoking cigarette after cigarette,
she would be almost catatonic, her slender fingers still trembling from bouts of anxiety
and depression caused by bad memory-filled dreams from the night before.
Bliss, sometimes she would acknowledge you, without taking her eyes off the television;
and other times, it would just feel like she was just staring through you,
her glassy eyes seeming not to recognize any part of her daughter at all.
Oh like it or not, honey, you were sure that sometimes
your mother was simply searching for god-knows-what, for
some kind of miracle or sign that not all hope was lost.
Ironically, the other day, you introduced me to her as your new friend,
even though technically, I'm not; even though we hardly know each other
and have trouble understanding our reasons for doing shit, most of the time.
But that's just fine by me, sweetheart; I don't have to force a smile
or aid you with a proper introduction..
I don't need to gift your mother with an explanation to put her mind at ease,
to reassure her that I would never let any harm come to her daughter.
In all honesty, I actually appreciate
your willingness to avoid asking and answering too many questions,
even though I think that in your case,
it is more of a coping mechanism than a sincere and real-life personality trait.
But still, girl; in some weird way,
you understand me like no one else does
and I honestly believe that I can help you trust, slowly,
curb your desire to always run away.
Yeah, Bliss, I'm dead serious because you're eighteen and still breathing, girl..
Although some people may not think so,
after everything that you have endured, it's still something to be proud of, for sure.
When I finally told you this, inside that old abandoned church
that had become your new haven of sorts,
you actually smiled, girl.
Between flickering October-spice candlelight and stained-glass depictions of Christ;
saints and newborn kings,
your smile, Bliss, was more angelic than any artful innocence that I had ever seen.
Yeah, against all tributes of superior immortal beings; both winged and wingless,
splayed in glittering hues of rose-gold and sunflower yellow
across a dimmed twilit window,
girl, you were still marvelous.
It was partially because on that night,
you finally threw away the powder that you kept hidden in tiny capsules, underneath
the floorboards; the drugs that helped you stay awake and alert,
preventing you from letting your guard down,
getting caught in a dangerously vulnerable and frighteningly human situation again.
Of course, I can't be sure, but that night, there may have been
an expected chill in the air, girl;
or my words must have reached you somehow
because you called me and I sneaked out of my quiet house, just to see you after 12.
Yeah, at around 2 AM, you fell asleep with your head resting on my shoulder;
with your wheat-blond hair brushing against my collarbone,
the strands so feather-light and curling at the ends.
That's right, my sun-gliding spirit; that was the moment that I wasn't expecting,
but with the first light of dawn, our shared closeness melted away
and we were abruptly scrambling to get our backpacks and jackets,
our school-books and wallets together, our bus passes;
and creating distance between our tense and slowly waking shadows,
we were suddenly running towards the same exit of that morning-dove sanctuary.
Girl, we were leaving each other with awkward farewells and sideways glances,
just like before; but still, we couldn't ignore how
the universe seemed to always be forcing us to meet by accident;
crossing paths on forest trails and highways, amid sirens and car crashes;
on basketball courts and even cemeteries,
on the corner of voodoo shops in the French Quarter.
Yeah, Bliss; even through the glass walls of your father's skyscraper office,
we were channeling each others' energy,
each others' fears and post-disaster magic,
all the while facing the dreary-looking Pontchartrain Causeway.
Oh I felt like we were just trying to navigate this strange new world together;
over precariously placed stepping-stones, oil-slick swamp water,
and the secrets of our strict, yet, doting elders.
Rest assured, it was complicated, darlin'; it was confusing, beyond belief,
whether we asked for guidance or not, whether we were faking confidence
as we tried to figure it all out on our own or actually getting somewhere
as we leaped over neatly placed camouflaged alligator tails.
I can't help but recall how you told me about your latest partner-in-crime;
your most recent almost-lover, how you felt guilty about leaving him behind,
leaving him in the dark, because you believed that you had no other choice.
Oh you told me that you saw his hopes and dreams through a kaleidoscope of blue-green,
dogwood pink and white; a vibrant spring-valley scene, with veils hanging
above an alter and a sparrow-carved gazebo, a slow dance with inside-jokes
whispered between you two, and somewhere; bells and chimes tinkling,
keeping time with the rhythm of your rain-and-blues beating heart,
hidden underneath the delicate fabric of your cream-and-rose tinted gown.
Yes, girl, you confessed that this seemingly innocent vision filled you with
inexplicable and unimaginable dread, causing you to shove that poor fool away
when he tried to kiss you, to promise you forever;
and you ran back into the shadows that had ironically become your safe-haven of sorts,
in the reeking sour whiskey filth of St. Patrick's Day slums.
And unable to suppress my growing curiosity, Bliss;
learning this brand new thing about you,
I couldn't help but ask, “Why did you do it?”
I couldn't deny that I was already intrigued by your peculiar and on-the-edge,
your disastrously mortal, fascinating existence.
Girl, I was already caught in your unsuspecting trap of random twists and turns,
despite knowing better; and I wanted to discover the reason as to why you loved
putting yourself in danger so badly, why
you never screamed through the pain or asked for help, why things like morality
and heroism never seemed to matter in your mind.
Bliss, your actions and your temper; your
overall cut-throat style, suggested that you more
like a fallen angel than a mortal, a fragile damsel-in-distress, not quite evil
or violent in nature, and yet, not entirely
harmless or naive, either; just a tiny bit lost..
Oh my guess was proven correct when you shook your head and said,
“That boy; he wants to marry a girl like me.
That's why I ran away; because it sounds too absurd to believe!”
Yet, now it was my turn to shake my head and
tell you the god-honest truth, girl, that:
“No, he doesn't want to marry a girl like you, my martian princess.
Your so-called partner-in-crime, almost boyfriend or whatever;
he wants to marry you, after everything has faded away,
the illusion of your high-class speed-chase, outlaw fantasy;
and that has to count for something..”
I tried to hold your forest-green gaze for a second there, girl,
but you looked away, stubbornly.
You looked at the dove painted on a wall; opposite a crucifix,
and said, dully, “He doesn't even know me.”
Oh Bliss, I couldn't deny hearing the sad note in your voice,
and I couldn't deny being able to relate in some weird way.
I knew that you pushed people away, for fear of getting hurt
and being judged, eventually losing the ones
that you had opened up to, unexpectedly; at the last real minute,
holding them close and believing them to be allies.
Oh I understood, but at the same time;
I realized, after my brother's death, that
we can't shut out the world and still call ourselves brave.
Surprisingly, girl, you listened to me, but I still have no idea why.
You let me play that tape that I found in an old shoe-box under my bed,
the one with my brother's voice on it; his beat-boxing talents recorded,
his awkward-sounding adolescent-toned sentences and the mention of my own name,
followed by my high-pitched childish pleas for attention.
And we heard his last original notes; basement melodies,
songs that would never be written and sung on the radio, replayed into recognition
by jaded underground society, obsessed with fame and fortune.
And you told me, girl, that you never wanted to forget your father's gentle whisper,
the same way that I never wanted to forget the sound of my older brother's laugh.
Oh that was when I realized that we knew each other so dangerously well..
Some people would have said that we were too close for comfort,
but even when I did my best to avoid thinking about you, girl;
drowning in my own frustration and resentment; my growing compassion
for our shared experiences, I found that I couldn't,
no matter how many laps I ran around an empty gym at night,
how many crunches I did in my bedroom when I should have been asleep,
with sweat streaming down my neck, my arms and back.
During this time, girl, you had a nightmare,
in which you were driving out of your hometown;
the scenery around you pitch-black, except for a few gleaming emerald trees,
the highway like a beacon, a diamond-back escape route
leading towards both nothing and everything.
But the most curious thing about this dream was the fact that you were in a prom dress;
all cream with lilac tones, like the flowers
hanging over balconies in the white-hill Garden District,
or carefully placed over gravestones in an ancient Catholic cemetery.
And, Bliss, there was blood trickling down your your forehead and your date was missing
from the passenger seat; with nothing but his tie and cuff-links left behind,
those subtle little reminders that once upon a time, you had a heart to give away freely.
Yet, now; driving down a moonstruck bridge late at night,
with glittering buildings to your right and the Mississippi Delta to your left,
you weren't sure if you were supposed to crash the car
and hand over your some unnamed narrator; or just moving,
heading out of this eternally damned and broken pipe-dream city.
Tell me, Bliss, because I'm curious; did it matter at all, that unspoken choice,
as you drifted down less friendly and eerie blocks of homes
in shambles, remnants of Katrina casualties?
You realized then that leaving wasn't as dramatic as you thought it would be and
perhaps that was the thought that scared you the most;
but, darling, who the hell knows?
Bliss, when your eyes flew open, you reached for your phone.
You decided not to dial my number, you later told me,
because the action felt too much like an instinct;
like such a goddamn natural thing,
that it made you worry, acknowledging that we had just met, weeks prior; and that
no matter how close we had become,
we were still from completely opposite sides of a social class spectrum.
“It shouldn't matter but it does,” you admitted later on.
"This isn't a fairy-tale, in case you haven't noticed, boy.
There is no easily discovered solution, no happy-ending
with crowns and pumpkin carriages, dewdrop diamond necklaces.”
You sighed and continued, this time, not even looking at me,
“There is no promise of eternal adoration, of security
in the arms of someone who never dies young.”
Finally, you glanced back at me and said, hesitantly,
“I didn't want to sound desperate and needy on the phone is all.”
And it probably wasn't funny at all, but hearing this confession
actually made me want to chuckle because
feeling desperate was something that I could easily understand,
but picturing you as anything close to needy was, quite frankly, impossible.
Of course, I knew that you were the one who pushed people away
as a defense mechanism, having to fend for yourself at an early age; and so,
it didn't make any sense that you would be afraid of coming across as weak.
No, you were too much of a bad-ass for that;
you were too much of a bronze-and-silver toned silent warrior..
“And you're hard-headed, for sure, girl; daring, to a fault!”
I felt the need to tell you out loud, not through text message,
candle-wax postscripts or an email that you hadn't used in ages.
“You're so stubborn and proud, even in your loneliness.
To tell you the truth; most of the time, it's frustrating being here
and witnessing your willingness to be forever numb and cold to the world.”
Girl, I take a deep breath before continuing,
“When I see you sliding down a precipice;
your hands clawing at nothing but rocks and dirt,
I feel the need to run to your aid like an electrical current,
shooting through my veins.”
Bliss, you say nothing but your cheeks turn slightly pink as I say,
“Even on the edge, dangling precariously in mid-air,
you still refuse to scream or cry out for help;
you still refuse to show fear like any other wingless human being,
and that's so utterly stupid, so incredibly insane.”
Oh but instead of getting angry, giving me a withering scowl or a death-glare,
you managed a small wry smile in response
and I managed to hold your gaze steady.
I told you that; no matter what, I would never look at you, as though you were
weak and worthless, as though you were
destined to fail and never shine brightly,
never amount to anything great and memorable.
Granted, I'm not sure if you believed me or not, but in any case,
you still gave me a real smile of appreciation
that wasn't at all marred by heartache for once;
by pretense or irony, by chills-down-your-spine, trademark regret.
The enormity of that moment hit me then, how; even though I had been
giving you a hard time about not seeing the good in others,
I didn't always know what I was talking about because like it or not,
faith didn't always lead to promising results
and trusting someone felt a lot like handing them a knife
and letting them cut you open, see all of the raw apple-white
and cashmere scraps of flesh, your vulnerability glistening
with all of its frightening rain-and-gaslight secrets inside.
Bliss, I should know that; at the very least,
giving someone that much power over you isn't
the most pleasant or painless way to go, to leave this world;
the most smooth-sailing and easy-swaying way to die young and beautiful.
Oh that's why; at the end of the day, trusting one another was
probably the bravest and least selfish thing that we had ever done.
Yes, in our crystal-blue and American red-robin youth,
we were finally redeemed, after all this time.
And I told you so when you showed me the shackles
that you planned to wrap around your ankles,
that you hoped would be heavy enough to weigh you down and
force you to drown underneath the murky green
early spring waters of the Mississippi River.
I'm not going to lie, girl; I was stunned, hearing how you had
actually gone to the bridge, not even 24 hours prior to our meeting
with the intention of committing suicide
because even nine years since the accident that took your father,
you still wished that you had died, instead.
Oh I remember walking over to you slowly,
as though you had a knife or a gun in your hand;
and I remember reaching my hands out,
hoping that you would trust me to hold you because
I was so goddamn sorry that I had once shouted at you during an argument,
that I had once dared you to end it all, right there and then.
Bliss, I couldn't believe how stupid I'd been, thinking that you didn't
have the nerve and the self-hatred to do something
that you had secretly wanted to do,
since you were just an 8-year old girl in mourning.
“It's called survivor's guilt; this thing we have,” I told you once.
That's why I should have known better; that's why I should have seen
the signs of defeat in your eyes, the loss of innocence,
and recognized that pain like that doesn't just go away, magically;
that it can't be wiped clean with holy water, salt and lavender rain.
No, darling, you don't just get over a past so grim; and you know something?
Truthfully, it was the exact same nightmare that I saw
hidden in my molasses-coated eyes, in front of my cracked seventh day mirror.
And so, I should have known, better for so many reasons, girl.
But after everything, you still fell into the circle of my arms,
as if it was supposed to happen, anyway, Bliss; like it was a long time coming,
and you also untangled those chains from around your body,
let out a sigh like it was such a huge and startling, breath-catching relief.
You wrapped your slender arms around my shoulders and pressed your cheek against my neck.
Your ivory skin felt cold against my flesh, your breath sounded shallow in my ears
as you started to cry, shedding those tears that had been trapped
in your wild ginger-and-honey throat so long,
that you had forgotten the real motive for your sorrow, long ago.
But in that moment, darling, nothing mattered but the truth;
the simple fact that we could be ourselves, without apologies or excuses.
And so, I folded my hands around your waist and I held you close,
told you that now that the worst was over,
it had to be easier to move forward, now that we'd both been able
to confront the monsters from our shared past.
Girl, I told you that even though my brother and your father could never
be brought back to life, dug up from their unmarked watery graves;
still, we were no longer hiding in their shadow-like memories,
no longer tied to the ground that had been
marred by slave children's footprints for centuries.
Oh no, we were no longer sob-story grief-carriers, sweetheart;
no longer lost and blind, soulless travelers with backpacks
strapped to our crescent moon-shaped shoulder-blades.
Oh I insisted, Bliss, “Give yourself a chance!
You and I are going to survive, whether that be together or as individuals,
doing our own thing, faraway or close by, seeing and loving other people;
it doesn't matter, but we are going to survive.
We're going to make it, no matter what the odds are,
no matter what the statistics say about kids like us;
in the paper or on television, they don't know us,
don't know what we can do with our strengths, with
our terribly twisted and fucked-up but still powerful brains.”
And you actually laughed then, surprisingly.
girl, you wiped the tears from your face and asked in a small, almost shy tone,
“Is that what hope looks like?”
Friend, I couldn't help but grin and playfully bump your shoulder with mine,
say, “You tell me, warrior princess.”
We were brought back to a single moment, again and again,
but nothing changed until we willed it to; until we forced time to stand still,
trap our screams inside an invisible bottle that would then be cast out to sea,
until we decided to forgo suicide and try something new,
to finally fight against our cynical and mind-reading demons.
Oh girl, I decided that I wasn't going to end up just another
lifeless midnight-toned body shot down on the east side of town;
and you decided that you weren't going to walk out of your house
and disappear into a faceless crowd, never to be seen again.
Yeah, unexpectedly, we were beating the odds, defying the records
claiming that we were nothing but two trash-talking kids with the words
“most likely to die, unrecognized” stamped on our foreheads.
Oh maybe-someday child, we weren't supposed to meet like this, were we?
Lying here, side-by-side on top of a water tower or abandoned building;
perhaps even on the bow of a ship, stranded in the middle of the ocean,
we weren't quite sure how we ended up there or why we had survived,
when others hadn't been so lucky, doomed to drown with starfish corpses
pressed on their eyelids and secrets forever embedded in the delicate
skins of their throats like gangland tattoos.
Oh believe me, girl; I wanted answers, too,
but before you started asking the really difficult questions,
persuading me to shout at the soundless void of the autumn night sky,
I reached across the concrete and found your hand.
I covered your fingers with mine, before you could say a single word.
You glanced over at me, girl, somewhat shocked that I had the nerve,
but still; you didn't pull away and I took that as a sure sign
that you understood all the things that I was trying to communicate,
that no matter how confusing our surroundings, our fate on a night
filled with black water and oil-tainted turtle-doves; broken toy cars and guns,
I was still there with you, refusing to let you suffer alone.
And for once, you just bit your tongue and looked up at the navy-gray clouds.
For once, you were simply grateful that you were still breathing, Bliss;
and that your heartbeat wasn't the only one echoing in your ears,
after a near-death experience.
Feeling fresh warmth rise to my cheekbones as you squeezed my hand,
I imagined white-and-yellow daisies sprouting from our fingertips,
between the carpet-burns and bruises on our all-spice and umber skins.
Oh in that moment, I kept my eyes on the starless sky above,
so I didn't see if there was a wicked spark in your eyes or
if your confetti-pink mouth smiled just the tiniest bit, but I clearly
heard the calmness in your voice
when you sighed and whispered, “God save our young blood..”