Cherry Vanilla Soda, Haikus I Keep Under My Pillow and the Now/Then Conundrum

Cherry Vanilla Soda

They say that to preserve a memory,

you must tie a red ribbon around

its picture frame, red mixed with wood;

once the glue holding the ribbon flat

has come undone, you must bury the picture

in the place you made your memory.

I have taken all our photographs

off the walls, burying them underneath

my bed instead of underground,

and braiding the memories

into my hair. I have never been one

to follow traditions. In truth,

you and I were refracting magnets,

pushing back and forth until

the very end. My nostalgia

is irresponsible and if you ask me,

I think it has overstayed its welcome

because I can still feel the angel’s kiss

of August morning’s heat in my hair,

the tangy teal toothpaste lingering

on your lips, the starlight smiles

and sadness as black as my hair that

I can now watch only through pictures.

Perhaps I may start burying.

 

Related image

 

Haikus I Keep Under My Pillow

Glass jar in the sky-

its stars inhibit moonshine,

charred cosmic escape.

A sailboat, clockwork

soaring through clouds of the sea,

minute hand ticking.

Wooden corn contains

whispered secrets on our lips

while we lie in rest.

Dark eyes, a landscape;

melodic melancholy,

celestial sleep.

 

The Now/Then Conundrum

Here’s what I used to do.

I used to look at you and see heavy billows of mist blown along by autumn winds through sprouting trees. I used to look at you and see wintergreen air kissing frosted windows, the dark wooden panes burned by your embers. I used to sit on mountaintops with you and watch sunshadows dance across the sky in kaleidoscopic bursts of wistful violets, dazzling empty teal, burnt orange charcoal. I used to collect the shaved damp bark of dying willow trees and keep it in my pocket because they it was your favorite tree. I used to wake up to your body folded into me, the flawless shape of a fragile dahlia — sunlit morning honey running its gingery finger down your collarbone. I used to pick you snapdragons and waxflowers, climbing nightshades and rosemary so you could tuck them in your pocket for good luck. I used to tell you outlandish superstitions about the way people used to love under those tempestuous December skies, watch your mouth curl up into the whisper of a smile.

Now, though. Now is now is not then is only today is now. I wake up at six am when the obsidian blankets of night fall away and leave blooming clouds of soft blue in their wake and reach for you, my brain stuck on the idea that you never left, grabbing empty air instead. I now watch you kiss rosy-cheeked girls like you used to kiss the rose on my arm. I now learn to braid moonshine and joy into my hair to absorb their radiance. I now become a teacher to my own heart, lessons and lessons of how to feel okay alone again. I now feel aware of my body’s every move, the pulse in my chest, the subtle tremble of my fingertips, the flush in my face. I now feel you everywhere and nowhere. I now breathe in April air through cupped hands and throw out handfuls of light. I now watch your life in pictures and remember how your heart used to beat like a slow, steady drum: you were, you were, you were. What was once is no longer breathing.