I am the aneurysm to you a wilting tulip in an empty kombucha bottle that rains like it always does back in Jakarta when the monsoons bleed through tin roofs I am a bit over twenty-one years old with a face that people should want to punch that can’t turn towards oncoming traffic while waiting to cross the street I am an ape who sits and dreams about silly things like walking out while the cars are rushing past yellow.
66460 - Dialogue Study (Beth & Karen)
It’s eleven and the sun is being dampened by a bout of mid-April showers. Beth and Karen are sitting at a cherrywood table on the second floor of a coffee shop, a few steps away from a screened window.
The rain cuts through it and covers nearby tables in a soft cloud that nudges against the creases of Beth’s brain. She was only halfway into sleeping off four Old Fashioned’s downed under low-hanging indigo lights. You can tell from how her hair tangles from a makeshift bun and her glasses drooping down a bridge of caking foundation. Karen, sitting across from her, takes her right middle finger and starts picking away at its nail polish with her left thumb.
“I said he was selfish and I said he was weak.” Karen’s left leg rattles under the table, the flat sole of her shoe flapping helplessly against her heel and the ground. It matches her cadence. “Because I sure as hell never considered calling it off, and I sure as shit didn’t put myself through the wringer.” The words fell out of her with half a stutter.
“After that, I wanted to leave but he grabbed my keys and said, ‘You know what? Think of the thousand more things you’d want to say to me and give me just one word of it.’” An apostrophe forms on the right side of her mouth. “So I called him a cunt.”
One of the last things my Dad did was teach me my native tongue. He said the word for my liver is the same for my heart, so I think if one’s this ravaged then it’s okay to destroy the other but when you twist around the syllables of what to call a set of hands, you’d get the word for being calm. Every time I can’t sleep because it’s raining like it does back in Jakarta and I remember that he’s just sitting in a box on a shelf in Texas, my fingers start shaking, and I start thinking you’re here, dreamy with the promise that even then, you’d still hold them close.
In the eighth grade he was still afraid of thunder but once he read that lightning could shock through his pipes and leave the bathwater stagnant with his body, he feared that instead.
I could never kiss that boy without wanting to bite off his lips. Mytongue always felt foreign pushing through his aching teeth, they’re a tin roof chattering as the rain picks up.
67717 - The daffodils always bloom
On St. Patrick’s Day, next to you barely wrapped in cotton and down, I wake up in a pool of sweat shaped like the birthmark staining the back of my crooked right leg. I become more conscious of my stomach when I look over to check your breathing.
You’re not quite asleep, opening your eyes just to watch the nightstand stumble. “The daffodils always bloom on St. Patrick’s Day,” you slur, “even on that hill, with the view.” Your heater starts clicking through the dark and I’m sure you notice me sneaking outside.
I sit in arrhythmic silence on the fire escape for maybe three or four minutes, when I’m back you’re a bit more asleep sighing, “Even on that hill, with the view, and all those dingy little houseboats christened by the Puget Sound.”
67852 - Hold
Maybe I’ll start showering behind a frozen sidewalk of tile and a soggy shore, your bathmat, and wipe my face with your towel that always leaves blue fuzz on my cheeks. Maybe I’ll dress myself with the blinds open, peeling what’s left of your hair that’s sewn itself into to the arms of my sweaters. Maybe tomorrow morning I’ll wake up in the difference of you.
For now I catch blinks of you across the table drinking coffee, cooking my eggs over easy, eating a plate of grits doused with salt and pepper with a strip of bacon and a slice of toast. For now I ask myself if my brain is stuck in eastern time or if it could fry like yours did. All of a sudden, last night. For now I ask myself if the keys are still with you as I’m locking the front door.