Tuesday, January 25, 2011

the same old traps

it was fall and bay road curved

as it always did
i drove as i always do: fast
around the curves, one hand
in the dark.  everything was ordinary:
i was coming home to you.

and then it was

there.  like the sudden glory of anything new and impossible
a light appeared between the trees
pinkish, papery, the only light for miles.
it was a house inside-out, only
tarp and two-by-fours.  newborn
its burning heart revealed in the naked night 

gone at the next curve.

all winter
i waited for the meaning to come

and drove as i always did
in the dark—nothing
glowing but the ordinary: dashboard, headlights, cigarette.
you were gone.
i remembered the house, but i never found it again
and it meant nothing
no matter how many metaphors i tried.

it was
like you


Monday, January 17, 2011

there and here

there are things i know about people as soon as i look at them.  like how some people are good at knowing how much something weighs, or how far away something is, or how many things are in a jar without counting each one.  i can't do any of that.  but i know exactly how far a person will bend before they snap.  i don't always believe it, so i end up using my fingers to do a little pushing, to feel the resistance, like feeling a loose tooth. or maybe, since i don't know why i know what i know, i'm hoping i'm wrong.  that maybe i'll push against someone and realize they're not what i thought, that they'll surprise me somehow.

usually, though, i hold back.  something i learned in school, when nobody liked the sound of my voice anymore: i stopped raising my hand all the time.  then the unsaid words just hang in the air, where no one has to look at them.  you learn to take shelter under them.  i never said the word love to jonny, never, never; he would have bolted like a spooked cat across the road at night.  but it was there, over us, like an umbrella.  instead of hurting me, making me vulnerable, that love protected me from the darkness that surrounded him.

it was the darkness i wanted.  that's the thing hard for everyone to understand.  i could see it, but i couldn't see through it, and i wanted to get under there.  i didn't raise my hand.  i waited for him to reach for me, and he did.  maybe there's some reverse law of attraction, where he needed someone like me to absorb the force of that darkness without being destroyed.  the first night in the warehouse, he was the one seeing how far he could go.  underneath the noise, the world was different.  that was the beauty of everything punkrock—you had to avert your gaze so as not to go blind, listen through the muffle of ear plugs unless you wanted to go deaf.  in the room behind the stage, he said nothing, while my skirt slid up my legs.  i said nothing while he pushed me down across the bed.  his friends across the room were talking.  one looked at me, right when jonny put his hand between my legs, blinked before he looked away.  i let him.  i let him.  i let him touch me and i let him watch me.  just like i let him do anything to me, later.  like i let him turn away from me while he slept and i watched him breathe without touching him.  like i let him serve me up to his ex-girlfriend another night, in another dark room, in the basement of the costume shop, where he left me handcuffed to the bed for her.  she tasted like honey that night.  it was in her hair, long and knotted and black, and the coiled tips of her hair brushed across her chest and neck and across my lips and i saw him in the corner of the room, leaning over some project, something he lost himself in, something he made for me and gave to me which i have forgotten.

i never gave him anything.  because i knew better.  the only thing he ever took from me was a bath i made for him in my parents' house, when no one was home.  i didn't look at him then; what he'd done to his skin wasn't something i needed to see to know.  i let him keep it that way.  because he let me hide there in that place with him where there was nothing to say, which was all i ever wanted from him.