V4:E7 July, 2002
A STRANGE THING
Love is a strange thing.
I said I loved you at the time, and sometimes still
I wake when night is middle-aged, a crisis
she solves by getting her nails done and buying a sports car,
Sometimes still I wake with your name on my lips
because I remember
that we lived in nights: it was at night you came home
(home was you, then, and wherever you were,
and the small house we shared, too young to understand
that love fades as quickly as the curtains,
piles up resentment like unpaid rent). Night
when you kissed me quietly and held me closely
and we stifled in love's syrup, sweet and thick.
Love is a strange thing.
Nights spoke little things. It was at night
you whispered fear against my scalp, at night
I curled up my small fists and hit you, at night
we twined slowly, surely, ecstatically
Nothing mattered but nights: not the mornings
I stood in, half-dazed, listening to the world
and watching it move by me like a video
stuck perpetually on fast-forward; not the afternoons
silent and bitter as gall. Only night.
Night was a synonym for love, for your face
crudely carved with stress, a small idol
I dug from the rock with bare hands and bloody nails.
I worked for love. I sowed its seeds in me
and prayed secretly for time.
Love needs time,
time like rain, time the one thing we did not have --
only night, only the streetlights
glaring in your window, laying their stripes
on my favorite blue blanket, you know the one,
we spread it out on the sand at the beach
and watched the mysterious coming of dawn, only night
and the harsh taste of wine, lingering
in my mouth, beer on your lips
and the sadness our eyes sometimes shared.
Love is a strange thing, and like all strange things
it grows, changes, solidifies
or in some cases evaporates
into the air. Not gone, but forgotten.
You're fucking a new sixteen-year-old now.
Love is a strange thing. Was it love, really?
You came home those nights smelling of grease,
of salt, of burnt sugar and sweat, wearing black.
You showered it off and pretended you had
dignity, instead of a job at McDonald's.
You drank eight beers one night, I forget which --
sometimes I lose time in the hazy memories
of parties, impaired by liquor and loss --
and sat down beside me and I asked if that
was really necessary, and if that was
your eighth or your ninth. You weren't sure
and threw it away
and pretended you didn't resent me for it.
Love is a strange thing. Night remembers
that I said I'd follow you to Hell,
aware all the time of how my voice sounds
when I am making promises
I do not intend to keep. I am a liar
but believe me, I wanted very badly
to love you that much.
We lived in the nights. The spaces between
dusk and dawn were the only ones that could hold us,
our mirrored, multifaceted deceptions,
the lies we told each other and ourselves.
Love, like a lie or a death, is a strange thing.
One night I got really resoundingly drunk
and told you I'd rather fuck girls,
and we broke up for a week,
and pretended there was no magnetic pull
in the air between us.
Sometimes I still think I'd rather fuck girls
and sometimes I'd rather fuck you: I remember
the way night remembers the curve
of your fingers, how thoroughly you fucked me,
how we never seemed to fit together quite right
except for that moment when I, beneath you,
gasped in startled harmony with your harsh pants,
the sound of breath thick in the air,
and saw stars:
night remembers. And love, love is a strange thing.
Port Angeles, Washington
Outsider Ink, Sometimes City, Stirring, etc.
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