At the temple, there is a poem called “Loss” carved into the stone. It has three words, but the poet has scratched them out. You cannot read Loss, only feel it.
Sayuri (Memoirs of a Geisha)
I was holding my heart in the palms of my nervous hand.
My heart had two hundred broken windows
glass covering the floor
and amazing light in almost every room.
My heart was beating like a pillow fight —
feathers were flying everywhere.
I couldn’t stop crying for all those birds.
I could not stop crying.
I planted my heart in the raised bed in your bedroom.
Pansies bloomed all night.
You called me “pretty” and I didn’t flinch.
I knew I could still be your boyfriend
and tell you my grandmother sewed my prom dress
stitch by stitch, with her own hands.
The finest suit couldn’t have made me
Our hearts beat so loud the neighbours think we’re fucking
when I’m just trying to find the nerve to touch your face.
You don’t ask God how long this will last.
I don’t care about any of the words on the map besides
You are here.
You are here
listening to me tell you
I’ve been stung by a bee only twice in my life —
both times I was stung in the mouth.
I still carry the stingers under my tongue
So I never forget
where honey comes from.
Sweet sweet siren
I imagine you ruining Oklahoma farm boys
in the beds of their daddies’ trucks.
I want to take you to church
and show you what I can do to your confession booth
on a Saturday night.
You already know
how many love poems I have written to women who are not you.
You already know that every word was true.
There is still a tandem bicycle in my garage
I know I will never have the heart to ride or sell.
So I know you know
I am not wondering why you kept your married name.
I am here watching you do your laundry
and I want to match your socks
just so you can put them on and I can take them off.
Take everything off.
Yes, I have a history of fainting.
No, I wasn’t lying when I told you
I am going to be more difficult than anyone you have ever dated.
It has been years since my life was a picnic
where I wasn’t freaking out about the possible gluten allergies,
of the pigeons being fed bread in the park.
But you will always feel safe knowing
I will never make a piñata of your heart.
You will never have to lose yourself to win me over.
Tell me you’re a liar —
I will say I already know
you are a master yogi
when it comes to stretching the truth.
But I’ll be willing to bet that
we both have a history of downward dog,
and sometimes you’ve got to bend to keep seeing
God isn’t always as clean as a whistle
but that train is something I can worship
if only because it keeps showing up.
I am at your station saying:
If i were a painter
I would paint every billboard in this city bright white
buy a projector
and take you to a new drive in movie every single night.
If I were an oven mitt
I would say never touch anything hot without me.
I am going to do stupid things.
I once sold my saxophone to help pay for college.
I once smashed a violin to bits on our second date.
When I said: “So your vagina —
it’s really rad that babies have come out of it.”
What I meant to say is:
Holy shit. You’ve given birth.
I can’t imagine anything sexier
than a woman checking her children’s homework.
For the record: you are getting straight-A’s in chemistry class.
For the record: I am flunking math.
It has been too few days to add up to me saying:
Yes, I am going to permanently fuck up your lip stick.
Yes, I am going to throw tantrums through your tidy heart.
Yes, I am going to fall apart at your mother’s dinner table,
over green beans and lentils and somebody’s sensible doubt.
Yes, I am gonna run you a bath.
That is to say I am gonna run into the rain
over and over, with an empty glass,
til you are soaking in the certainty
that nothing falls in vain.
Wherever we land, there will always be this “they” —
where I turn off that song of my sadness, and your shame,
where I stop asking what all the crying has been about.
All I know is my name
could rust entirely away
in your perfect mouth.