We Meet Again
in an empty book shop. No, in a field of violets. At a farmer’s market down South when the heat has broken like an eggshell. Your hair is longer. Shorter. Dyed bright purple. Still the same. We meet again by chance at a New York City bus stop. You have exact change. I wink at the driver. We meet again in February when the snow is so tired of itself it melts into the pavements like a slow yawn. At a poetry club in the heart of some small town in England. You sip at a beer. Keep your legs crossed. Find my eyes in the corner, two pinpricks in the distance. Fairy lights around a fireplace. We meet again after the in-between years. We’re older. You look it. I hear your voice over the intercom in a railroad station. I catch your scent in the aisle of a supermarket. We meet again at the feet of the Eiffel Tower. Neither of us impressed. No, both of us swollen with awe. Your camera frames me before you even notice. We meet again in the middle of the ocean. No, under a bridge in Mexico. No, in the shadow of a skyscraper. Under the scope of a comet. At the edge of the universe. Before the end of the world. We meet again at a party. Leave together. Make love until we turn to salt. Until we are nothing but steam rising in a windowless room. Until we remember what tore us apart to begin with. We meet again at the brink of a climax. No, at the root of a toothache. In the small of your back. We meet again at the height of our loneliness. Part again when it comes back.
"Respect your right to be beautiful even in bad lighting."
Donna-Marie Riley, from Stop
I was born sad. That is the only thing I have ever been sure of. I am sure I was born with melancholic eyes; eyes heavier than the car they drove me home in; eyes like the aftermath of a war. I am sure of this because my mother once told me that when she brought me home, a silence filled the house as if it had been waiting to greet me home; as if the emptiness was my welcome wagon. I didn’t cry, she said, never for long. Short bouts. Thirty second weeps that I stifled myself without the aid of a blanket, a lullaby, her breast.
Sometimes I wonder if she ever imagined she was bringing home an illness. That is what I have grown to be. I am bed-ridden most days. I am shut away. I keep myself busy dissecting my thoughts until I get right to the ugly, until I get right to the blood of it all.
My legs are thin. My legs are thin like gossamer strings. It is effort to walk. It is effort to carry out a conversation. My mouth was not made for talking, only for kissing people who don’t deserve it. I am a paperback book that has been handled so roughly it falls apart at the spine. I have been pulled in every direction. I have been disregarded like an unwanted phone call. I have been trying to get better. I have been trying to get back to the womb, stay head first this time so they won’t have to drag me out like a mangled animal.
What they didn’t tell my mother is that the howling never stops.
"Maybe one day I will learn how to move
without it hurting. I will dance in the line of
your vision and you will love me like you did before."
Donna-Marie Riley, from Eventually, We Destroy Ourselves
#will probably delete
There are so many people I could have loved if I’d just had the nerve to. If I hadn’t swallowed my tongue. If I hadn’t pushed my hands into my pockets. If I hadn’t chewed back all my fingernails. So many people. So many unsaid things. If I’d just said “hey,” things could have been so much different. If I’d just said, “I like your glasses.” I didn’t trust myself, see? Didn’t trust that I wasn’t something to revolt at. Through all the sinking years, didn’t believe that any one of them might love me back. So I left classes as soon as the bell rang. Left movie theatres as soon as the credits came up. Left them wondering, I’m sure of it. Some of them had to have known. Had to have heard the tremor in my voice. Had to have caught my eyes on their collarbones. They had to know. And if I’d confirmed it outright, if I’d just said, “let’s grab a coffee” or “let’s hang out sometime,” who knows what could have happened? God, if I’d just been braver. If I’d had more bite. More run. More take the jump. If I’d thought the fall wouldn’t split me open like a watermelon. I was so convinced it’d kill me to do it that I never imagined it’d kill me not to.