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.
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;
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.