POETRY | Love Letter
We were friends once. The woods were still dark, but they felt safer when you felt close. You were a watched clock on the wall
Of this vast, old breathy house called life;
A room on the other side of every door.
I waited. Years passed. Silver fingers dissected the hospital hours. Time shuffled. I believed a lot of things, once. I think of you: a box of attic pearls I was always going to open. Because everyone opens you at least once. So I hear. Isn’t that what they say? What you whisper into the shell of my ear, When the crowd of this existence takes a breath? O ye of little faith, you say, patting me on the head with your words. As though I am the problem. I'm coming. You aren't, you know. You are what you have always been – Somewhere else. Hysteria in the quiet between heartbeats. I believed you when you told me you were near. All your words were beautiful; But truthfully you moved in me
like metal between numb ribs.
And I let you, because I thought that's what I deserved. Siren. You with your finger crook'd in the rain. Gleaming with stolen sun, Smoky incense song among the stones. I never slept well when I thought of you. I trusted my own eyes, and your low voice. Lazy words blown over a bottle top, even as I foundered.
Thinking I was out of earshot.
I am what I am. A corner torn from the edge of a pretty dress, Billowing slow in the salt universe, Catching below the waves in your open jaws, Secret under the water. You became what I treasured and you ate me alive. I'm all splinters now. Older. Tireder. Devoured by what I thought you were. I am not the boat I used to be. But, if I float long enough,
Lay back and stare quietly at the sky, The clouds part in the place where I am enough, and I begin to hope That one day I might forget I ever knew you. We were friends, once. I thought. You knock at my window as I write. Even now. Gentle. Awkward. Sweet, disbelieving and confused. I watch you. Your stare darts when you see the sign Has been turned to face the street.
You always come here bearing the last face you wore.
I meet your eyes one last time, Wondering if I’m doing the right thing. My palms itch like mad to open a lock, wanting to let you in To a place you judge on the pavement but have no intention of entering. Of its own accord, a hand rises. I watch them: Fingers pointing to the upturned chairs and empty tables. My shoulders are cold. Bones protecting flesh from itself. Closed. I am closed. I stay in the shadows at the back, turning tea cups in my hands, Humming tunelessly about rainbows.
Time moves on.
Someday so will you.
© Erin Brown, 2019