By chance I saw you,
standing across from Union Square.
I knew it was you from the nape of your neck,
the one I memorized as it retreated from view
all loose hairs and flush red.
if it remembers the imprint of my lips,
mistaking your warm for warmth.
I wonder if you remember still,
tracing constellations in the freckles on your cheeks,
as if your face was somehow a road map to the stars.
How silly was I to think
I could make a holy place of a boy who forgets,
to have and to own are not the same?
We used to be silly
thinking our love could outlast the summer,
about thrift stores
making homes of tea shops and
cozying up in our bedroom corner
hoping these threadbare blankets would keep us warm
against the cold that set in
We were silly
hurling words as if they would dissipate
in open space
and not slowly chafe
at our sensitive parts,
thinking an open palm meant only give when
an open palm also spells want
and we were wont
to fall apart
young and lost and always searching
but never seeing
Steeping bruise purple
sweet tea sunset’s colors seep
in fading day’s sky
Waiting for you, who sent my heart into frenzied bloom,
with clumsy hands—you had no green thumb—
Uproot this parched flesh,
make it full again.
What is the matter of us
but a smattering
of sweet nothings,
exchanged as love notes
tucked between pillows
to open again at morning’s hellos
into our windows
like a fine white wine.
What are we made of
if not infinities,
the hourglass bind of dust and bone,
the impossible time between dusk and dawn.
You are heat seeker
with snuffing lips moth-drawn to flames,
Try to bury yourself in warmth but succeed only
in swallowing all heat
You want the sun in this skin,
this unbearable light to bend to breath,
your extinguished breath
the sea is lined with ash,
this bright that crumbles bone
Your parched throat mistook me for kindling
But what good is flame to a hearth
There is a jar in my bedroom.
It sits well-sunned beneath a window, rests next to an empty wire birdcage. It is filled to the brim with receipts, pastry bags, sticky notes, old homework assignments, napkins. Each spare piece of paper scribbled on in my clumsy hand, folded up and tucked away like love notes from suitors past.
I’ve been stashing poetry in this jar for a little over a year. Cracking it open I’ve found some gems, some laughable lines, some warm moments, and some painful memories. It’s like opening a time capsule and seeing an older draft of myself preserved there. So much has happened in that time. I moved, started a new job, started a relationship, saw that relationship run its course, and dealt with the unpredictable nature of my illness and all its ups and downs. Reading over the poetry I wrote in that time was a strange, yet cathartic experience I haven’t found the right words to describe.
I suppose it’s an exercise I’ll continue. In some ways it’s the equivalent to keeping a journal or diary (although less frequent), which I’ve never managed to devote the time to. (I do have some uncompleted journals I started as a teenager which are beyond cringe-worthy, so maybe that’s for the best.)
So now I have an empty jar by the window. Who knows what sweet nothings will fill it yet and what another year has in store for me. I look forward to it.