I’ve been working on my heart these days, making notes
on when she skips beats:
-driving towards headlights
-waking to the door open
-after hearing about your most recent engagement
You see, I wonder if my heart still has some strings
tied to the spot where we laid under the stars and learned
what forgiveness feels like.
I wonder how much time has to pass
before the mention of first love doesn’t send
my heart into orbit again.
I can still remember a time when we could drive
to the edge of darkness just to see the stars. On nights
that were so clear we could see right through the windows
of time, time we didn’t realize
was running out.
I can’t drive down Trilby without seeing your
truck, and I know you don’t even have the truck anymore.
I hold you in my heart at 17, where you’re still
whole, and nothing out there seemed too dangerous
for us. We had no idea what kind of storm was coming.
Before 2009, before the war.
I hold you in my heart at 17, before we learned to
behave in such ugly ways, before we learned that
sometimes, I love you, means
I can get away with this.
Before men starting looking at my body
as a scarifice.
I write you letters every week, my house
is full of envelops your hands will never touch. Your hands,
the smell of sawdust and grease from the bicycle chain,
and it occurs to me that I’ll never be rid of you.
I keep you safe in my memory, safe from the wreckage, before
talking you down from the cliff. I keep you safe in my heart
before you started taking notes of the bruises, before you
pulled my body from the fire. Before the winter.
Before the war.
I’m worried that the girl whose with you now
doesn’t know about your affinity with airplanes, or
how you once screamed into the big, black abyss
that you were scared, but goddamn,
you were alive. Does she know what a miracle that is?
Does she kiss you, thanking the monsters for not
swallowing you whole?
Does she know what it will be like when you’re gone?
If I could, I would send you the letters, I would write you out,
from my bones, write you out until the ghosts stop haunting me,
until I can go home without seeing your face, until my heart
stops holding her breath to keep your memory from fading.
I would let you fade.
I would tell you I’m sorry,
tell you it was inevitable, that our 1st love
is rarely also our last.
That I’m better these days.
I don’t drink to forget anymore, I don’t even
think of calling you, and I haven’t
let men use me as a punching bag for 4 years.
I can see clearly on days that used to
eat me up alive.
I can forgive again.
I don’t know if you can remember how it feels
to turn forgiveness into touch, to let your heart
press play and dance with me again,
even if it’s just this once, even if it doesn’t
mean a thing.
I didn’t mean to make such a mess when
I left. I didn’t mean to take it all back, to light
a match, and turn everything to ash.
I’ve been working on my heart lately,
I’ve been learning to let you fade, forgiven,
and 17. Even if it doesn’t mean a thing, I hold
you safe, before the winter, before the war.