I know you warned him. I know he knew those warnings himself, buried them beneath the clean press of his pillow case, the clean press of his skin, between the cracks of his pink, insidious mouth that I knew the taste of so well.
I know you warned him about the bitter wave foam, the weight of sea air, damp heaviness like a lover’s arm draped across your waist in sleep; his arm, the dip of my too-slight waist. I can taste salt on the nape of his neck, the sweet crook of his elbow, the hardened dot-to-dot line of his spine like a patchy litmus test.
I know you warned him about the heat, wax spilling down his arms like oil, pupils minute inkpots with the light, skin bright and red and swallowing the rays whole. I can feel its tacky warmth beneath my bitten fingernails, see the reflection of collapsing, fractured wings in the window, sun glittering sharp from his skin like he’s made of it.
I know you warned him about that, the hubris, the arrogance of it, the ignominious death, ugly and shameful at the end of it, crumpled feathers and heavy bones in my arms when the sea gave him up at last. I know you warned him about the ruin, the mess of ruined limbs and a broken spine.
I know you didn’t warn him about the cigarette smoke clouding his eyes, bloodshot with red veins like spiders’ webs, the sea-crag roughness in the back of his throat, the lungs storm-dark. I know you didn’t warn him about gunmetal heavy in the grooves of his sure palms, the cordite choking his warm breath.
I know you think you warned him. Did you think he’d listen?