HAVEN’T THOUGHT OF YOU IN YEARS
Haven’t thought of you in years but here you come again like cosmic weather I never know quite know how to dress for except in flesh and blood and a lot of love. You shine through the valleys of death like Bailey’s Beads through the gaps in the mountains of the moon in full eclipse. I taught you the name of every star in the sky in four languages sitting high up on a rocky ledge of Heartbreak Hill overlooking the neighbourhood. You smiled and taught me to shine. You taught me there are no names for the best things in life. But yours was. And by a reflected glory mine.
Lachrymae rerum. It’s always been your tears that I’ve tasted deep down in the heart of things like a dark elixir of well-aged sorrows that transformed all those yesterdays into vintage tomorrows we never got to drink. Memories. New knives for old wounds that have grown over the years like shortcuts to a chasm. The pain might come and go but like the moon it never loses its edge. And there is no scar worthy of you to close the gap. My blood flows like a flag at half mast for a lonely heroine in a holy war of one Spartan heart against a Persian mind. You told me once that you’d rather commit suicide than surrender. And a truce with the obscenity of human lovelessness that you were living at the time wasn’t an option because your father was a maggot of a man pimped out like a wannabe butterfly who taught his daughters the value of working the street was his lightbulb of a creation plan for the future. And brought his drunken friends home to desecrate what was left of your innocence. You said it made your skin crawl like dirty money that couldn’t be laundered by anything spiritual like death to remove the smell. You were the wooden maiden on the bowsprit of a moonboat the navy boarded every Friday night like a body whose heart had already gone down with the ship. You said you hated the old men most who grabbed your breasts as if they were grasping for time. And those who afflicted their sex upon you like one of the seven plagues of Egypt as a self-righteous punishment for what they had just paid you to do against their religion.
You were my first and best girlfriend. And face to face or back to back we had each other covered on both sides of the moon. It was too dangerous to grow orchids in the shadow of a garbage can but up on our precipice high above the world alone together again at three in the morning I swear by all that is holy and wild I felt as free as the flightfeathers on the wings of a phoenix to escape the ashes of the crematorium we were put through like a racial cleansing of childhood even if I had to walk on stars for you. Or kill your father.
You might have been turned out but you hadn’t learned as you would later to curse the wedding and bless the hearse. And we talked of marriage shyly. You were just looking for tenderness and I’ve been grateful for the last forty years of looking back that you said I gave you that. We gathered each other up in our arms like flowers from a garbage-can, flowers from the grave, and planted them in our hearts like a secret Eden only we knew the way back to like a starpath up the world mountain that kept coming down on us avalanche after avalanche like the premature karma of an afterlife that was killing us in this one. Courage is an elixir of spiritual spit in the fountain of youth when you’re outnumbered by dry-mouthed cowards trying to drink your blood like geriatric vampires in love. And we were brave as silver stakes driven through their hearts. We flintknapped our emotions into Salutrian Clovis-points and hunted wooly mammoth voodoo dolls into extinction. Our eyes were at war with the windows and mirrors that glared at us as if we were thieves and whores of our own making at fourteen. And well beyond the snake-oil redemption they talked about as if they were immune to breaking. But we knew the broken black filaments of fragile lightning that couldn’t jump the gaps in their lightbulb heads weren’t starmaps to the chandeliers they hung above the snakepits of their mangers for wiser fools than us to follow. But we didn’t throw sparrows at their blood-stained windows. We were hard rock partisans of the lower class who knew how to headbutt their crystal skulls into shattered glass. We robbed every butcher baker candlestick-maker who had ever dropped a dime in your jukebox to fit his needle to your groove and dance to a spasm of music. Outlaw justice is full measure and a bit beside. And we got more than our own back. If they bruised an eye. We blackened their seeing with the unholy ghosts of burning businesses rising like demonic smoke from the ashes of amateur exorcists. Eventually they came to realize that we were selling death insurance and stopped taking you like a risk. And for awhile we were as happy as a union of arsonists on an igneous nightshift comparing mythologies with out of work dragons on welfare. We were perfected by each other in our solitude when our lifelines flowed into each other like estranged orbits well beyond the reach of the sun that had driven us out on our own like an evil portent of things to come. We weren’t the warning. But we were the writing on the wall. We were the lie that came true in a beautiful nightmare of love like a happy ending trying to convince itself that as it was above so it was below. Even though we knew better and said nothing to break the spell of the fireflies in the blackholes of our wishing well hearts.
If you don’t eat the pain you can’t taste the pleasure. But if the pleasure gets eaten like the last apple in Eden, all you’ll taste is pain. I repeated that kind of sententious symmetrical bullshit for lightyears to myself like a mantra to control the terror of your absence after you just announced one night out of the starless blue of your eyes you weren’t the woman I deserve and putting your clothes back on disappeared. Just disappeared. Poof. Gone. A candleflame. As if we had never existed. And then, yes, the note that came six months later like a flightfeather from the wings of a loveletter passing high overhead. Forever. One word. That’s all you said. One horrifying word that came down like a life sentence without parole on all I’ve lived ever since. In isolation.
I don’t ask the birds anymore on my windowsill that peek through the bars if they’ve heard any news of you the way I did in the first few years and when I’m out in the yard by myself alone with the stars in their gun towers trying to make out the constellations through the glare of the light pollution I don’t search the open sky for you as my longing once used to. Because the impersonality of your absence is rooted so deeply in me like dark matter that can’t be seen everything that blossoms like eyes and stars and earthly light on spiritual apple-trees anywhere is an intimacy of that first morning we woke up beside each other and began learning the hard discipline of how to keep a soft dream of love alive by sweeping it aside as if it were nothing.