Coming to terms with the temporary
is an exercise in futility. The glass can be
full or empty, but I’m smiling either way.
Composure is so often mistaken with ease,
and some might be fool enough to think
my grin is anything
Coming to terms with the temporary
all will be dust, swept
to dirt, buried past
swallowed by the Earth.
the wind and mountains creek,
to rivers flood, flowing future
of who came before.
Silence is golden, duct tape
is silver. Rope, a deep mahogany.
The trunk is black, your heart
a cold and frigid
“A little early for you to call…I’m scared to ask, are you drunk?” She said.
“First of all time is a human construct, secondly it’s got to be happy hour somewhere, and lastly no I’m not.”
I lack the grace to remain kind in cruel situations. When I was five there was a lizard collapsed on the walkway of our front porch. A tiny, wounded, almost lifeless thing with black spots across its back that didn’t dart or scatter away as the other lizards usually would. I knelt down to take a closer look and saw something wet was beginning to dry on the pavement right below it, the small, spotted sides expanding and contracting the closer my body came as I waved the flies away. Two large and helpless eyes staring back at me, desperate and panicked, a strange green liquid that seemed to leak from everywhere around it.
“I don’t believe you, but hi.”
“Hi! Thanks for not asking how my weekend was. Fucking annoying, when people ask questions that don’t really mean anything and it’s just filler when they can’t think of anything to say. You know what I mean?”
I felt sad watching it, and while I don’t think I understood exactly what was happening, I had an idea. As far as an idea can go. Pain is something we can identify, even at an early age, but can only ever understand within the context of ourselves. Through experience. How often do we disregard the warnings of our parents and predecessors because, well, fuck them, and what the hell do they know?-aside from more than us. And fire is hot, sure, but how well is that really known until you burn your finger and it stings for hours no matter how long you run cold water on it? There is empathy, I guess. Being sensitive to the aches and torment of someone other than yourself requires an incredible and noble kind of intelligence. But…just how far does empathy really go, or matter? I imagine it means little, that beautiful understanding, to the sheep and lambs put out to slaughter, bleeding to death or eaten alive.
“…you don’t, but that’s fine.” I said, after silence was my only answer. “Anyway how’s your father doing?” .
My mother called from the car, and thoughtlessly I stood and ran towards her. I sat in the backseat staring into the walkway where the flies grew brave and began to cover around a very specific spot. Two crows came down to the very place I was kneeling, and as the car drove off, all I could see was their violent pecking at the pavement with their long, black, terrible beaks. What I could have done for him, the only thing I think could have eased the pain and suffering of that lizard, still haunts me.
“He died last week,” She said.
Gail is laying in the hospital while I’m standing on the brink. Burning bridges all weekend as I cross them, and if I ever make it home on Sunday, I’m lighting candles by the beach with starry eyes fixed on the shore. No green lights across the bay, because weekend are a myth and every day is Monday. Just a vague memory or six burning bright against the flames.
Some wounds only heal over time, but those scars are here to stay.
I watch her lay there, lifeless, and understand why there are so many sleeping beauties in fairy tales. But now she is no Belle or Snow White with seven dwarves. She’s only flesh with tubes and wires, some flowers and Get-Well-Soon balloons hovering a bedside. A bracelet her favorite nephew made when he turned six, no makeup and dark purple pavements just above her cheek. Serene, beautiful and peaceful, despite the hazmat ambiance of a hospital room. Hashtag #Iwokeuplikethis, and she looked just as perfect as the first time we made eyes and I just knew she was going to be something.
“John? Where’s John,” A weak voice, two notes shorter than a whisper.
She is surprised to see me standing there at first, but then she flashes that familiar smile so unquestionably unforgettable. Fun and full of memorable, something that never quite loses it’s glow, like watching someone trip or stumble in public. Yet there was a certain kind of sadness in the curves of her lips, in every moment of her happiness, like when you reach for a box of cigarettes and find only one soldier left. A frown formed, only, it was shaped upside down. Like when somebody says they miss you, but you don’t really feel the same way. A half hearted exchange, overdone, overkilled. Packed like this paragraph filled with too many similes.
And that’s what she does to me – filling me full of phrases and cliche’s I hate to see other people be a part of. As if our experiences are the same. As if anyone has ever experienced this pain that is so unbelievably mine.
“I must look horrible.” She says.
You say it like it’s something new.
“And you’re still a jerk. Do you still write?” She asks, and I say yes.
“Show me,” She pleads. And I do.
“You write a lot about girls.” I pause and nod.
Most of them are shades of you.
“What about that night?” She says. “Remind me how it went.”
It was snowing, and I met you at the movie theater wearing a suit.
“Why were you wearing a suit?”
Because my other plans cancelled. I was going to…a club, I think, and the birthday person caught a cold or something, and the whole thing was cancelled. But I spent a lot of money on that suit and I still wanted to wear it so.
“Ohhh, so in other words, because you’re an ass.”
Yes. Because I’m an ass.
“How old were we?”
I was 20, I think? You’d just turned 18.
So you just turned 18, I was wearing a suit because I’m an ass-
“And a pedophile,”
Yes, right, I was an ass and a pedophile, and we saw that movie with Jessica Alba about her eye. She could see the future because of it, and at the end when she gets stabbed in the face some guy in the back of the theatre yelled ‘Bet you didn’t see that coming bitch.’
“I remember that.” And she laughs.
We stayed in the food court talking about your little brother and how out of place I looked in a suit. You put on my tie, so we could match, and when we were getting kicked out at around 3a.m. you straightened your tie and told the security guard- ‘Expect to hear from my attorney.’
She smiles and grabs my hand, I stand still and uncomfortable.
“What made you come?” She asks.
“…you’re dying.” I say finally, because it was something I needed to hear myself say.
“Don’t you always say ‘we all are’?”
“It’s different now.”
“You still love me.”
“I’m not here to win you back.”
She died on a Monday.