There will be no funeral for you: the soft circumference
of you in my bed, pressed to my belly, our synchronized breath
a facile dance. I will not get to tribute your mouthful
of crooked teeth, your mismatched eyes, how it feels to know that
I am one of your basic needs. When you came home,
a survival’s toolkit made flesh, I started counting
your life expectancy: 15-18 years. I thought by the time you died,
I would be old enough to say goodbye well. Instead,
that year has arrived, & I grab a handful
of your fur & shove my face into the warm curl of your body,
knowing that the time is coming & I do not know how to use a hatchet
One summer, I drove to a girl’s house,
skin lathered in coconut sunscreen, a dash of white on my nose
that I missed rubbing in. Back then, I wasn’t warned of loss,
how it peels itself out from under a burnt love until it is the only part of us
left touching the world, until we can’t remember what it felt like to hold something
I don’t recall what was said to me
about how I was no longer wanted, but I still feel targeted by unrequited grief.
With you, I am glad you will never have
to know Gone, that your life will be filled entirely of me until
it is not. & when it is not, you will not know it. When it is not,
only I will.
The Nights of Lost Cause
I admit, I wanted love without uncertainty.
Like everyone else, I wanted love like I wanted an object,
a mindless permanence.
I would bring anything into the house & keep it as long as it stayed.
J left for groceries & the rain fell harder than the day before.
I placed the last call I’d make on my own phone
& a car arrived carrying my rescuers - those who saw this reckless mind
& were still there to hold me,
my friends. The space between who they knew me to be
& who I was now
stared at us, making sound after sound, a tender-throated
prey-thing pulled from a jaw.
Glorious windfall. Unknowable chimes in the air. That day was the first day
of my freedom - how it has spoken to me again & again
in its ephemeral bliss. Somewhere on the other side of this ample time
& its distance, I am not a survivor.
I was not carried to a safe house,
did not need a new computer.
Somewhere, I am not worried that I no longer know where she lives,
& if it is here. I said every prayer on those nights
of Lost Cause & each year I will
pray again. This is wonderful.
Or is it sad? If I continue to shout her abuse