there’s a dip in my drive way that rain pools in
it reminds me of the curve of your smile
words caught in between your teeth
a tree in my neighbour’s yard grew for twenty years and stopped
it towers over me
I used to take pictures of it in the rain
I have no idea why I ever stopped
my house doesn’t feel like a home without you
the body of it is empty
the negative space in between my ribs aches
I haven’t played the piano in my living room for weeks
and I can’t without you humming along
I bruised my knees falling for you on asphalt
I bled rose petals
always “we kiss
but love you not”
leaves fell from my eyes like tears
decomposed in the garden
growing from my ribs
something in your smile like sunlight
buds on a tree
clipped and wilting in water
if you pick a flower it will die
it doesn’t matter how pretty it looks in your centrepiece
May blushes like my mother,
soft and pink – a broken
horse. Her dresses on the
clothesline wave docile
and timid, like white flags
in the muted breeze.
May blushes like my mother’s
fever: quiet and milk-warm.
She woke me in the middle
of the night, asking for
water, not leaving the bed,
letting the hoarse syllables
loose in the hallway like terrible
birds. Instead, listen to the creek
behind our house, how it murmurs
in the summer, growing louder
as it thins until, finally, it dries
with an arid gasp.
She smells of the rotting apple cores
in the kitchen sink, rich with dying
sweetness. The proverbial image
of a mother-to-be whittling out her
insides – rotting. Eyes like peach pits,
the shadows underneath dark enough
to sleep in. Hand her the card, watch
her watery peach-pit eyes, let something
like guilt, or love, cloud my throat
with a placid lacquer.
My father spends Sunday afternoons
spitting shells of sunflower seeds
out onto our front porch: quietly mangled,
splintered hollow by two front teeth,
rolled underneath tongues like lost
baby teeth. Watch them be turned over
and abandoned by crows. Watch them
be swept underneath the limbs of this
house, into the mulch. Watch her sleep
there after she dies–
atop those ruptured
But, oh, your mouth – listen.
Listen: I could write odes to your mouth. I could dedicate my life to mapping out your tongue, your cranberry gums, the rows of ivory teeth, standing like soldiers. Your mouth pulls words from me, words like ‘wrecked’ and ‘wanting.’
Listen: when I was ten, my mother gave me her wedding ring and told me not to fall in love. She warned against the hands of men and eyes like fingernails. But it was the mouths she hated most, she said, the mouths like Adonis’s lean and freckled waist. Mouths full of cemeteries. Mouths full of tombstones.
Listen: I love you so much that the sky burns with it. We woke together in New York today and the dawn was on fire. When you made me breakfast, all the cirrus clouds were scattering and stumbling over themselves, borne blue from smoke. I kissed your shoulder blade, and the sun made love to the horizon. You taste like burning to the ground.
Listen: I turned sixteen, and a man touched me for the first time. He was my brother’s best friend, seared and sun-kissed. It did not happen slow, it happened hard against the kitchen counter, swallowing my consent. Bruises, legs, lips. That was the first mouth I touched, and it still stains my teeth some days. I’m sorry if sometimes you taste him, but he almost swallowed me whole.
Listen: my father was made of concrete and steel. Especially his fists, and I inherited them.
Listen: I was taught from a young age that love is supposed to leave you bruised.
Listen: you are teaching me softness. You are teaching me warmth. I love you so much, it makes a birds’ nest of my heart.
Listen: the thrushes sing, and it sounds like Manhattan collapsing into dust.
brown hair. dark eyes. piercing gaze.
his hand will rip through your ribcage
like a scythe on a blade of grass.
he will tear out your heart and eat it
like he was trying to survive on you.
he will lie next to you, whisper more
than what the silence does.
ignore this boy at the party.
he will send you on a collision course with heartbreak-how-to.
— ”the second of ten things I wish I could teach you,” - L.B.