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Your death was the illusion of glitter smeared across
a lake that vanishes as the sun dips under the horizon, while grief
clanged within, subsiding the way ice melts in a glass of vodka:
potent, transparent, dissolving clear against clear. I became
nocturnal, searching in the crisp coldness of night sky, imagining
you were the amnesia inducing warmth I sought to live in
as the sun rose and I drifted to sleep. Life was not
as you said it was: an obsessive collection
of knick knacks and useless facts, pointing
to my key chains, my bookshelf,
that silver braided Celtic ring, a gift from you
that I wore on my thumb. After you died,
I could have rid myself of it all.
I want to say what I couldn’t say then—
that no object ever rooted me
more than the moment you reached into my mouth,
pulled out my gum, and tossed it aside
so you could kiss me until our lips were numb,
or when you held out your arms, exposing
red pock marks, remnants of each attempt to extinguish
the glow of your cigarettes.
I want to correct the reactions I had—
laughing when you joked about Prozac ruining our sex life
when, in truth, I never felt more terrifyingly alive,
knowing I was watching you deteriorate,
blaming you for turning cold on me.
I’ve put knick knacks on your headstone: flowers, letters,
poems—but not to prove you right,
only to take the expendable and lay it on your name,
as you did to me when you thought life
something that could be summed up and cast off, giving away all
your possessions, leaving me with an eternal image—empty bottle
of methadone pills, your father prodding you to wake
with his fishing rod, and your final non-responsiveness.
Now, years after our young romance,
your memory weighs heavier than any object,
pouring over my years like rain traveling across
the globe. I trudge through the mud of it, sift
for trinkets of recollection—
those grey fragments, pieced together and polished.