Inside of here, I hold on too tightly
Fisted clenched and toes curled,
I white-knuckle my way through this life.
I cannot wear this skin well,
I don’t know how to rest these bones,
and it is so hard to walk through this world
when nothing lasts long enough for this greedy heart.
Love puts its ear to the ground
and listens closely. It knows my weaknesses.
I’ve always been worried, secretly,
that love would take me down.
Sideswipe me out of nowhere,
knock me to the ground,
knees bleeding and tears streaming.
That it would reduce me to something
Desperate and clutching, like my mother.
Broken and spent, like so many others.
I’ll have none of that, thank you very much.
And so I have spent a lifetime practicing
the art of taking leave.
I have rehearsed goodbyes the way one
would approach the piano.
I take out the crumpled sheet music,
flatten it with open palms
and take a deep breathe before I begin.
I say so long over and over again
sort of like when I learned my multiplication tables.
You times me equals 69
and fireworks of the best sort.
I know my math is a little creative.
Sweetheart, I thought the scrambled eggs were delicious
just don’t make plans too far into the future
because I’m scratching fondness and farewell
onto dead leaves, matchbooks, bar napkins,
and the palms of each one of my lovers.
I slip out in the quiet hours of the night
leaving notes in eyeliner
that say things like
catch you later
thanks for the French fries and the fuck
you’re awesome. smiley face
One must practice goodbyes.
Stand in front of the mirror and try them out.
Do this every day for many years.
Part ways with the graffiti and the dirty snow,
with warm lips and kisses in the dark
our clouds of breath spreading like haloes
in the streetlight.
Walk away from tulip bulbs warming in the ground
like small furry fists.
Abandon the lover who stroked your cheek
as if it were a newborn baby
just placed in her arms.
Turn your back on that deep sinking black of day
leeching into night as the ocean laps at your skin.
And in the morning
run. Run like a river raging full in spring
and do your best not to look up
at the windswept sky
so full of tears and loss signaling the storm to come
which will surely take you away from me.
So tonight, I will do what I must.
I will wrap my arms around you,
lick my love song into your ear,
and then I will tell you goodbye
before you have a chance to leave me.