He held his breath to them all. The way a bushel of blackberries suddenly appears on the side of the road after you’ve escaped from the city. You steal them by the handful, assuming they don’t belong to anyone except nature – and she owes you – from the countless times she disembodied your hungry gut and instead gave you palms full of pollen. You turn a flannel shirt into a basket and hijack what you can carry. The doe can split the rest.
The fog lifted just enough to see a cluster of trees casting bereavement like prophecy, and a stranded diner just three miles from the apple cider mill – double fisting a mug of coffee that looks like it was found in a thrift store from the 70s. We ate a late breakfast. He held his breath. They said his name. He held his breath. They stared for an hour. He held his breath. I was sixteen. He held his breath. Some men preferred the risk of living curiously; as if a gentle heart were parallel to the chaos of a young girl’s laughter.
There is nothing but death in his mouth. The waitress could smell it in his spleen – fungal fruit, the alcohol of a cardinal shrieking in his birth chart as it flew across our heads – a molten center of October burning daytime moons as they puddle in his pores. In my mind I ran faster than time, and it could follow me nowhere. I was alone in the way I mounted my mouth to silent air, sharing rotting intestines and a carousel of filthy bouquets trying to perform exodus from my skin.
But I chose you, to gorge in love, overdose and wait for love, live without and wither in love, move forward but never on in love, but dark fruit always tastes like you in love, a fat mouth and hesitant hips in love and afraid to be happy in love, you took away my best years in love, I let you make it harder in love until you finally chose me in love, thirteen years of wondering in love just to stare at your corpse two weeks later, in love.
I hardly have enough mental space to give life to this detour – both the route and the memory. In the grand scheme of everything, it’s like trying to pinpoint specific seconds within the longevity of the interstellar ether – but we aren’t quite that vast, or deep, and these specific seconds are like the leaves you pick off the blackberry and toss away because you don’t need them.
Sometimes I write about you and it serves no purpose other than forcing myself to relive memories so I can’t ever forget about them. But I rewrite them – I tell myself I always knew this would happen, and somewhere along the way I took tally of all the signs and scribbled them into notebooks, took a mental note of a flaring nostril and a twitching vein. I tell myself that a part of me always knew it would end this way, when we both know my love for you spun like a globe, dizzy and sickening, I tripped my way through absolute nonsense and disillusion. I knew nothing. I saw nothing. I heard nothing. If there were signs I swallowed them whole and coughed them out into the sink like phlegm.
None of these details matter. I’ve lived the life of an anecdote – a fatal myth – the heart grows more obsessive and angry within its own lie. I think of your corpse and I devour myself, swallowing digression like regurgitated pills you mopped up with bleach. I am the only person to exist who had everything.
I crave nothing except the sadness of your perishment – I want all of our specific seconds.
Being is like nothing without you.