“for when I look at you, even for a moment, no speaking
is left in me”
“Perhaps Sappho’s poem wants to teach us something about the metaphysics or even the theology of love. Perhaps she is not posing the usual lovesong complaint, Why don’t you love me? but a deeper spiritual question, What is it that love dares the self to do?”
– Anne Carson
Holding tight and breathing, listening to cars speed across the bridge outside my window. Maybe they’re tearing toward the city and crashing, bursting apart, scattering particles of electricity and music into the dark. Or maybe they’re making a break for it, outrunning all those strangers who look too cool and too shady and too nervous.
I keep remembering summer, further south. How we promised love but hardly spoke. How we found an old tree struck by lightning way up in the mountains, where we kept each other safe. How you showed me what citrine and jasper and obsidian all look like. How we could hear cicadas singing all those nights we tested fire.
Do you know when the cicadas started dying?
Winter’s close now, and we’re curled up under the blanket you gave to me. Stitched by hand from heavy yarn, with stripes and a pastel landscape. A church in the mountains and two birds taking flight. You told me that you found it and thought of me and washed it for me after I called you and told you about a secret growing and breathing deep beneath my skin. You asked if I was sure, and I said I was scared.
No one else needs to know.
You’ve already apologized for leaving me in the wake of confession with nothing but divination and ashes and a poem.
I haven’t apologized for anything yet.
I’m sorry for burning every photo I’ve ever taken of you. The one where you’re drying off after swimming in the river. The one where you’re holding a dying butterfly. The one where you’re bent over an old piano, trying so hard to recall all the notes you learned years ago.
I’m sorry I never told you that I’m frightened of my own body, and that if I could, I’d escape.
I’m sorry I can’t leave the city until the new year.
If we’re coming home late, drunk and wired, are we coping?
Maybe this is growth. Maybe growth is dreaming and sharing writing and talking on the phone every night to defy distance. Maybe growth is realization, when lovers understand friendship, finally and deeply, after severance and return.
If this is growth, I’ll believe in it.