What’s on my mind is
that scar on the left side of your face,
right below the sharp edge of your jaw,
how it looks like an arrow. How I wish
I were brave enough to trace my finger
like a road on a map until I hit somewhere
to call home.
When you drank your first beer, did you
pretend to feel the buzz just to make the
cool kids stop calling you a fucking loser?
Or maybe you were the cool kid. Maybe you
pressed cheap alcohol into the palms of kids
like me. Careful kids. Color in the lines kids.
Also, key lime pie. Specifically, my mom’s.
Would you eat it? I know you hate pie, but
how many girls’ moms’ pies have you eaten
just to please some girl’s mom? A lot, I’m sure.
Too many. But I like you. Even though you are
a raging republican. Even though you practice
dinner party talk in my bed. (Especially because
I think that’s you trying to impress me.) And
sometimes, when we dare to let the silence sit,
I wonder if the first people to get married
regretted it. Did they lie side-by-side five years
past their vows and rearrange letters of the
alphabet just to find the right word: Done.
Damaged. Different. Devoid. Divide. Divorce.
Yes, they thought, as they unlinked their hands.
Divorce. Because it burns something ugly on the tongue.
I wonder if we’ll ever get divorced before I remember
that we aren’t married. We aren’t anything. Then,
of course, I wonder, what the hell we’re doing.
And on that note: Hell.
Do you believe in it?
Because I do. I think I do.
At least I might.
Or do you make up stories about the girl over there
nose deep in the Bible or the man with no hair
who keeps nodding off. The people on subways and
street corners, half-awake. When you guess at their lives,
are they happily ever afters with green grass lawns
and dogs who don’t bark? Do they believe in hell?
And even if they do and you do and suddenly you see some
small fragment of yourself in the glass of her eyes, does that
mean you won’t bury her jagged pieces so deep she loses her
sharpness? And when she exhumes that grave and slips
idiosyncrasies back under her skin like splinters, will you stay
for something beyond the guilt? When she finally cracks open
her mind just to let you peek at the bone and raw edges,
will you even remember asking for all of this in the first place?
No. Of course you won’t.
So I smile. I stretch. You hold me like a question mark, quiet
and careful and waiting. There are things you’d like me to say,
but the silence is so much sweeter. Stranger hands wander down
my waist, and you ask, once more, “What’s on your mind?”
“Nothing,” I say. “I was just falling asleep.“