Far too often I fall in love with empty place settings,
lose my heart to the way the air moves in spare rooms,
lovingly gaze aching with longing at unoccupied chairs.
We have had the most passionate love affairs.
Having spent most of my life eating at a table filled by four
I imagine how my twenties will unfold—
romantic nights eating alone
surrounded by empty space and place mats perfectly placed
settings seductively set
silverware wearing it’s very best.
You see, my mothers were never shy about teaching me all the right
so by the time I was 13 I’d already read many books on
I knew exactly how to set the silverware just—so—
in parallel people-pleasing lines
that matched up with the perfectly arranged place mat
saving the place
I refused to let anyone occupy,
too enamored was I with the romance of empty space.
Once in a while I let some real humans audition for fillers,
flesh and blood dinner guests that play off my set-dressings nicely,
know how to fill their mouths with variations of my drafted scripts between bites.
But I have always deemed them insufficient,
sent them packing with the crumbs from their placemats,
maladighted for some minor misdemeanor of knife and fork,
or perhaps a misplaced napkin corner,
imperfections and missed connections serving as carefully constructed
excuses for a life in which I fall in love alone—
goldilocks indecision undercutting the simple fact that
lives take space to be lived.
Bodies change the shape of things.
Unlike empty space, their mass-filled molecules
force sheets, pillows, and my stomach to form new
ways of falling around them.
You’d think things that were given the properties of solids
wouldn’t be so malleable.
The too-numerous failings of the heart will go unmentioned.
I’ve never been able to fashion my chest tempur-pedic,
always failing the wine-glass test
and spilling over
with your every seismic on-the-edge-of-sleep twitch.
All this being said,
just know that when I blush at the slightest breeze
or breathe faster at the sight of an empty seat
it is not because of you,
but your very non-existence,
that I am all at once overcome
with the most frustrating waves of love
there ever were.