I look at you in the slanted morning sunlight and my eyes trace the curve of your back.
My fingers do not.
I have memorized the half-moons of your fingernails
and the sound your lips make when they part
but I know that you are temporary.
You are temporary like a planetary alignment is temporary,
like the subway ride with a celebrity is temporary,
like singing the best song of your life is temporary.
You are temporary like a moth dancing in the flame is temporary,
like the last full breath of air before you sink is temporary.
You are temporary like all beautiful things that must die are temporary.
You are temporary like the moment of perfect balance on a fence post is temporary,
like the burning of a falling star is temporary,
like the taste of coffee on your tongue is temporary.
You and I are doomed to die,
and what lies between us will die sooner than that.
The best things in life do not last forever.
I’ve heard people use the term “vomiting your feelings”
like fear and anger and pain are things that reside in the stomach, to be thrown up or shat out.
I feel that worry in my heart and in my lungs, anxiety like a grip around my chest, constricting, squeezing,
until I want to reach inside
and grab hold of my ribs
and snap them open
(like a fetal pig on a high school biology table)
and watch everything fall
On the days when I hate my breasts, I hate, too, that they are paler than the rest of me—
white like the fish’s underbelly,
like soft and vulnerable things.
I like her.
(Like, that peculiar term, said helpless and smiling, with the same particular emphasis given by gently teasing middle schoolers— I like-likeher.)
How can I resist?
I like her because she is fascinated by penguins and coos over baby anythings; because she gave me a glove when it was freezing; because her laugh is not lovely but contagious.
I like her because we lay on the floor of my room staring at the ceiling like stargazers, and I offered to cut through 17 ceilings so she could see the smog, and she laughed—
I like her because she crawled into my blanket fort after me, folding easily, and told me a story I’d never heard—
I like her because when I told her the tragic story of my best, broken mug, she reacted with the appropriate horror and sympathy—
I like her because whenever we walk together the wind presses at my back, whispering go on, go on.
I like her because she is so delightfully, deliriously human.
I like her because she asked me; I like her because she kissed me; I like her because she likes me.
(She like-likes me.)
I am not a predator.
I have no need for fangs
or poison claws.
I do not hunt.
I know one thing well- how to run, and when, and where.
I am not ashamed.
Wolves and deer
both die, eventually.
The deer, at least
does not know the taste of blood
until its dying breath.
I am not strong.
This is not an insult.
This is a fact.
I do not fight.
We place such value on standing ground
and holding on-
do not forget that just as important
is knowing when to leave.
I am not ashamed.
Roots deep in the soil
mean safety and strength,
but wind breaks branches
and carries leaves.
There is nothing shameful about survival.
The wind is howling outside.
The wind is screaming and crying and whipping through the trees
battering on the windows
and screeching through the streets.
The wind is moaning like a madwoman
and I’m here, with you, tucked under the sheets.
(That’s how you know I love you.)
The words from your mouth
like snarls in firewood but
you are all flash and no
I should be writing poetry.
I should be writing about the wandering that I did at 1am through campus in the rain-thick half-cold dark, searching for a place to sing.
I should be channeling my stress and worries into verse, rambling about my fear of failure and of failing, literally; of setting myself up to fall.
I should be writing about the afternoon I spent on a rooftop staring at a cloudless sky, watching a jet plane’s trail like a wake in the water and feeling that at any moment I could drown.
I should be waxing poetic about the date I had with a pretty girl, where we shared a pair of gloves, bare hands clasped together, pretending not to feel the cold.
I should be writing about the way my new haircut makes me feel, handsome and boyish and charming.
I should be writing about
I am just
There is something to be said for the changeling child
born of two worlds, bound to neither;
there is a freedom in the power
to walk the line between.
Those with feet firmly rooted
look on with misguided pity;
poor dear, poor lost thing,
no home and no place.
But they will never know the wonder
of standing on a high wire,
the edge between worlds,
and seeing both things at once.
(You were my caesura-
the pause, the frozen time, the empty silence
the sword between the ribs.)