I think you can tell a lot about a lover by the types of books they read.
Her hair was dandelion strands - her skin buttery and light as milk, her eyes tinted with October. She fantasized of white umbrellas above garden eyelet tables, wine glasses and quiet sighs, breath like nectar. She was coffee rings on thoughtful napkins, the red booth with initials carved in the mahogany behind her neck. Her hair carried the smell of cigarettes and cheap vanilla shampoo, her lips a blend of cardamom and chai. She wore her nights around her wrists, stowed troubled men in the pockets of her coats like keepsakes and maintained fragrant relationships with cafes and book shops smothered in ivy. She was twelve nights of mindless sex for two hours of literate passion. It was the delicacy that left her ruined. She hurried into the wrong men, memorized the musk of their furred skin and the cheap mispronunciation of love on the sheets. She wanted unknown lovers. To reply to the gangly girls brooding for details, wide moon-eyes expectant, with a simple “I don’t know.” Why him? What is it like? How is the sex? “I don’t know.” And does anybody? She didn’t know. She was forgetful, but she kept notes folded in a French dictionary, boys and men tucked into words that held no meaning other than the way they played with her tongue, arranging them like a tasteful phone book. rêche, L, hands rough on mine[me]. ivre, saliva like vodka. lils, M, he wrote on the petals. nuit, orange sheets to tint the sunlight.
If you catch me outside in the middle of the night with your shirt draped to my bottom and the blood of flowers licking between my fingers don’t worry, they were for you.
I find a stool near the edge of the company in the room, conjugating my own of sugar packets, light slurs with my pinky into the cocoa, light spoon taps against the edges when things are getting a bit loud. There is a light rain, I can smell it. I’d rather be outdoors, the little bricked patio. Delicate black tables with the presentation of a fold, and black chairs to match. I sit alongside a stoned in garden, leaning against the edge. I pull the mug to my lips and let it sit there, the steam creating a seducing chocolate musk in the air, I let my tongue out to touch it, hoping it will absorb. I take a sip, taking with me the breath of a tired rainy night. I swallow. I am taking the night with me. I close my eyes and admire the veins in the ivy, studying the bodies around me. Striking passages from books. Hurried recalls. Little do half of them know the women they will fall in love with next, as soon as I make it home. As soon as they make it onto a page. I am creating them. I smell the faint washed out aroma of lilacs lining the cafe’s windows, trapped between limbs and seats and an ivy tangled fence. The nape of my neck smells of a faint sweat and rain water, causing my hair to tuft and gnarl itself as it pleases. A have my bus map tucked between my crossed legs, pulling it to sprawl it out in front of me, running my fingers over the areas of the map that have been folded, creating unintentional mountains and rivers alone personal spines. I don’t know where I’m going. I don’t know who I am going to see. I am going but I do not know. But I do know that I’m going. And that is all you have to do. A stale smell of a overgrown weeds finds it’s way between my pressed lips. My skin is moist. Cinnamon at my fingers, chai spice and hot chocolate claiming both of my lips. I can taste the man I had parted from on the trolley coming here, a rouge kiss to the cheek, it’s traveled my skin. His taste. The spoonful in the middle of my collar. Between my ring and pinky finger, left hand. Dead center along my spine. Be careful to touch me there. That is where I taste him. I could write a book as to every inch of me devoting itself to tastes that felt warmest when touched. My past chaps my lips, leaving dried uneven blood. The wind always comes down to stirr our scarves and napkins and notes from him that she will now never see and scatters and things are lost. As they should be. I’m wrapped in a thick creme knit scarf, hiding the lips so many have claimed, the lips that hold so many others against them. What if someone couldn’t handle it? Where do I separate and I begin? The breath of night is direct, youthful, a curiosity we feel before we know what there ever was to wonder about in the first place. Cars pass, the roads are getting sloshier, i hear the individual geometric tracks of the tires as they tread through the street lined with pot holes. A man walks across the street with books in hand, his other tucked into his pocket, hesitant at the crossing but light and sure in his movements. The timidity of an artist, the ferocity of a human being. And I wonder, why don’t I know him? Should I know him? What would change if I knew him? I sigh. I shift. I toss my balance between my toes. The bus comes, distinguished sloshes. It sounds like distaste. Nickels and quarters finger through the drop slots and I listen to everyone get settled. Put in such close company. As if you knew who you were sitting with. As if you wanted to know who you were sitting with. 46 lightly dropletted passengers, the pressure from the doors leaked and I can feel the drivers eyes on me, waiting for an inch lift from my finger to signify that I might change my mind. I hold my breath, too, Sir. You’ll make it fine without me. I stand entirely still, staring straight forward, knit smuggling warmth into my neck, fingers wrapped around my still steamed mug, makeshift sipping mittens. Fascinated, while walking down the sidewalk, at the steam from the espresso mingling with my breath as I speak out to it. How the two converse with one another. How they mingle. Who takes what of whom, when all is gone? I always wonder that. You take pieces of people with you after they leave but what do they take from you, is that what’s off when you’re up at 4 in the morning and fin yourself stirring your coffee in the opposite direction, thinking no other general thought other than the strict image of him. I am not taking the bus. I would rather wander. I will meet trees and rare wildflowers uncovered from muddy floats, fractured ribcages of trees. I look up into every apartment on each side of me and wonder if any of them are up there. The people I’ve written about. The ones I’ve touched. I see the fire escapes in their alleys, imagine stringing small notes with tea bags strung on and dangling in light jars of fire flies, my room to yours. I smell the temperature of the drops paddling against the knuckles of my hands, pulled to my lips to suck into my mouth. I have not ever kissed during a downpour. That accent of my lips is reserved as it stands. I’ll keep walking and walking and walking, and I’ll sit on stoops that feel familiar or give me the presence of someone drawing notes to me on my forearms, pieces of newspapers twirling in unorganized circles on the ground, I pick one as it lands at my feet. “my body moved “// ripping - “had been moving too fast” ][.?\ “too hungry to become a woman.” I pocketed these pieces. My knees are aching with their incompleteness, the empty thoughts so urgently that needed my care my filling my time my taste my feel my skin my touch my scent my fuck. They needed me. Everything did. So I went out into it. I find things, I find things that need me and I bring them home and then I need them. Distraught flowers as if I had gone to a funeral service, ]/ reality: an eighteen year old boy felt I deserved the prettiest he could find in each color. I let them die, and then I kept them alive just the same. I feel suffocated in knits and it’s soft graze along my chin like a cat innocently trying to gain your goodmorning addresses with a curl of their tail. I think, with a night starting off like that, I would end up alone where I eventually turned in to sleep. Unless by sick whim I decided I needed a lust. A risk. A quick bout of tease and confidence to get what I want. What I want this time. What I want, do you hear that? Next time it will be me pleasuring you. The flowers on the table beside the couch, newspaper pieces scattered over the edge of the sheets like illiterate roses, now we tangle. Hair like the ivy. Night depth, stumbling over black tables. Nickles and quarters through the slots to ride. To travel. They go and I stay but have more love coursed through myself and another man before they reach their destination, still not having went through the process of knowing what they even want. I’m there. I’m there I’m here. I want. So let me get it.
I took my sleeping pill over an hour ago yet I am sitting here with chai tea and this book sprawled across my lap like thick hands to distract me. I have so much to do but there is nothing to be done. All I can do in my exhaustion is lye in this big pile of down and prolong it, and relieve it by writing. Scribbling. Ranting. I truly feel that no matter what schooling I go through I will forever be a writer. That isn’t what I want. That isn’t what I want. But it is what I am. I didn’t ask to be this. I didn’t mean to prefer the electricity bill to be late so guests would stop switching on the lights. I couldn’t stand the buzz like a cheap motel, your green duffel bag left at your ankles with a large neon strung sign like Las Vegas on a deserted strip. You see what such little things do? Keep the lights off. I didn’t ask to be this way. I don’t know why I taste him on porcelain mugs. Maybe I need to switch to terra-cotta. To have the taste before I have the body, right in front of me, mouth, inside of me. Swallows. Sips straight from the Sunny D jug in the fridge, what’s mine is yours. The boy left pieces on my lips. I wonder if you tasted him there. What’s mine is yours. But I will complete my education. I will make a mold of the business women with her wide eyes beaming, bakery plans in her future. The bakery is an excuse. The cafe is every writers recluse. We hide. It is understood. It is the softest place on the block, but I will leave once or twice because there are too many shuffles, a perfume like my mothers chest, too many breaths, a cologne like the teeth marks in his skin, too many irrelevant touches that shouldn’t mean a thing. None of it should matter. And it doesn’t. But that is the point. Everything I do reverberates itself into a piece. Every person that passes me teases me and they don’t even know it. They don’t know their actual life. I’ve crafted it. They are in pages. They will never find themselves, even if I handed them the cover, slid a note in to an underlined passage. It will either go untouched or potentially derange a tulips delicate mind. At least with me, at least with me, with me any way you’re with me, if you are with me enough for me to say that you are the one that is with me, you will never die. They say death is natural and we all must eventually come to terms with the fact that the people we love the people we are with the people that we are with enough to call them the ones we are with will have their turn at death. That to live forever would be a horrible tragedy to lose everything that you have. Do they not get it? They will not be dead. They are not gone. The pieces are still with me here. The pages in a 20 year old girls journal in her bag. It is everywhere with her. This is how she lets go but does not let go. She has dismissed you from her physical being but you are still tainting quiet typical things around her. Like an idiotic love poem. I am all over the place. I am the one that will watch everybody live, while I am dying. They are not leaving. They’re here on stained pages and I am simply being torn at from gentle and rash angles to gather the parts of me they had sunken into, the parts of me they had claimed. Take that. Take that. Take it back. I don’t know what I am saying. I am a writer because I have to be. I am a writer because I have to be.
I’m laying in bed. You’re lost to our apartment as you always are. I knew when I’d moved in that I wouldn’t be seeing much of you. A stale couple rooted together on the third floor, apartment 6A. Strangers living side by side but entirely apart, within the same four rooms but never once at the same time. I can hear your mind lingering with your footsteps, the silences with a light shuffle like a comma of your papers scattering the table in the dining room. Not a single plate has ever touched it. 3 AM eating habits. And then I hear your bottom give a quiet shift against the wood of the sill, and your lighter slickly fingered by the edge of your thumb. I hear the filter catch the flame and engulf the marrow down to the flesh of your lips, split with dried scabs. Nervous teeth. The anxious dissolving of the paper, pale and fragile as your skin. I know you, you finally let it go with trembling fingers, the cloud of smoke being swallowed by the night. It teases you. Everything teases you. The edge of the window. The nicotine on your breath. Exhaustion at the back of your throat. Everything has you. Owns you. Uses you. But you relish in the hungry company. And you hollow everything you touch just the same. I’m laying in bed. You’re lost to our apartment, and you always are.
She exists no more as you think she does, and no less than you fear she might not.
Just be sure to touch her when she does. All love is fleeting.
She will love you according to the seasons. She will suck the richness off of each transition’s tongue and hide it in her mouth, leaving her taste matching the temperature outdoors. You will think you have memorized her, but you will know you have not learned her. You will feel the shift in your stomach as she feels it in her knees, you will watch as her attention averts to the temptations of fall, the sorrows of winter, the spirituality of spring and the flight of summer. And watch is all you will be able to do. She will tempt you with the sight of her skin alone, below freezing temperatures making her bare body a sight to leave your lips dripping. You will see little of her in the heat, and she will feed to you greedily as the day on her cheeks. Wilting flowers will dangle along every counter top, colors as distracted as her bare feet when a walk turns into her discovery of a meadow, and she will hang over you just the same. If you can, love her during the fall. For it is only then that she is steadily beautiful and driven, and it is only then that she will be sure that she does, in fact, want much if anything at all to do with you. To experience an entire year of her love would be nothing short of astonishment, even to her, and it is only then that you will see her undone, raw and unkept. It is only then that you will be able to say that you were loved by her seasons, and adjusted to each of the chills and warmths inside of her mouth. She will be waiting, she won’t be within her bed, but perched on the end of it, watching her ankles in the dark. She is scared. She is no more ready than you. And when she sighs, when the air leaves her lips and you feel the temperature plummet, or suffocate you into her throat, you are left strangers. You do not know her, and she does not know you. And this is why she will end up the most diversely loved, and diversely lonely woman to live.
Know that whoever she is, she does not appreciate the sight of you unbuttoning your shirt the way that I would.
She sits with her ankles crossed on her front steps, picking at the holes in her stockings to let the bitter weather in to slide it’s tongue across her skin. She uses her mind as means to keep warm, channeling the mouths that have touched her own and left traces of heat between the cracks, tucked into the edges of a smirk that had once playfully touched them. She aches for men she has never had. Though to think, to notice someone from afar and wonder for nights what taste hides behind their teeth is to feel them. With this in mind she curls into herself tighter, biting into the soft flesh of her cheeks. If obsession over the taste of a stranger meant enough as it did to have them, 213 men had occupied her heart that night.
my socks are pulled up to
my thighs like your fingers
clasped on my knees and
the cigarette stains my
fingertips and I can’t pull
you to my lips like I want to
but I taste you nonetheless
and isn’t it so beautiful
to taste another tongue
when they’re gone. on your
leftover mug in the kitchen
with the morning uncomfort-
able on the rim and your
blue sheets pale with your
lack of sleep
and the soap left in
the shower and your skin
around my apartment
Maybe she doesn’t like her hair to be played with. These little things bother you, I know they do. She doesn’t have a weird fascination with your ankles, and you won’t have to feel shy about showing them or keeping them hidden to torment her. She wouldn’t kiss them even if you let her. She might stay asleep with you throughout the night, but I promise it’s the one’s that leave the bed that feel you the most. The ones that tip toe to the bathroom to lean forward on the sink, straining their wrists and staring back at themselves, having to find some sort of normalcy and sense of self from being tangled up in you for so long. The ones that you find at 3 in the morning sitting halfway out the windowsill, your t shirt exposing their legs, what you don’t know is when they lick their lips they’re tasting you there. She won’t miss dinners because she got caught up in her book, she won’t tousle with your hair to side part it, she won’t call you handsome. You might hardly ever fight with her, she might never get on your nerves, never give you any feeling but utter happiness, but I promise it’s the one’s that raise hell that feel you the most. The ones that feel you so heavily that sometimes, they just need to rid of pieces of you. The ones that want you to get angry at them, the ones that want to be challenged and the ones who appreciate your separation just to hear the rain dripping from your coat sleeves as you softly knock on the door, waiting for them to answer even though it is just as much your space as it is their’s. She won’t cook you sweets at all hours of the night, she might be dieting, maybe sugars aren’t her thing. You won’t come home to a mirage of kisses, her lips against yours whispering the kinds she’s giving you, your favorite, her favorite, the deep one, the one where I pull your lip like this, the sweet one, our little peck. She might not leave you alone when you ask her to, she might persistently want you and want to be the one that helps you, the one that couldn’t stand to see you falling apart, but I promise you it’s the ones that let you crumble and keep a gentle company that feel you the most. The one’s that fix your coffee black the way you like it and leave it by your chair every morning even though you won’t drink it. The one’s that leave the bathroom door open while they’re in the bath, because you always find your way in to sit beside the tub to watch one another, you bathing and him bathing in you. The one’s that, when you find your way out, you can roll over to and look at them and know that it’s understood, that you’re out and you’re safe, and you’re so sorry it took so long but you’re here, and you’re home. She might buy you gifts, she might flood you in your favorite shirts, the cologne she yearns for against your skin, she might even give you mind numbing sex that never gets old or wears out. But I promise you it’s the one’s that are subtle in everything they do that feel you the most. The one’s that are frustrated with colognes because then, they say, they can’t smell you. The one’s that buy you cards and run out of room to write because they’ve gotten carried away. The one’s that cry when they’ve given you something because of how much of themselves they’ve exhausted into it. The one’s that don’t just fuck you, but who’s moans ring from their lips and it’s all you can do to hear it one more time. She might not leave her notepads lying around, pages torn out with unfinished sentences. She might make the bed, prefer the room clean and the windows closed when it’s raining so it doesn’t soak your things. She might always be up and ready in the mornings to go out, to do everything that she can with you while the two of you are together. And it should be that way. It should. But is that enough? Because I promise you it’s the ones that are messy with their love that feel you the most. The one’s who will write on any notebook they find about a kiss the two of you had shared the previous week that was all but just a kiss to her. The one’s who leave their things by the window regardless of the ruin from the rain because they like to be weathered, to be aged, for their shirts to be soaked and stuck to their ribs because they enjoy watching you peel it off like a layer of skin you’ve claimed. The one’s that will forget to set the alarm and hurry and trip with you when you’re both late for work, but manage to slip in a quick kiss before you’re out the door. The one’s that will pull you back to bed, and leave it messy throughout the day only to tempt the both of you back into it. At times, she may be all over the place. But she will not bring you with her, tucked in her lips, her pockets, her fingers, her hair. But I will, okay? So when you’re ready, I will. I will.
I wonder if the person I end up marrying has their nose nuzzled into someone else’s neck right now, and all they have to do is breathe in the smell of their hair or the skin at their shoulder and they know, this is only temporary.
“There are endless ways to capture a woman just by her hands.” she muses. ”It would be dangerous for her, even, to know her as well as you would after just having touched them. How intimately you could discover her. How unfair it is, to expose her in such a way.”
And you will know her as the way she holds her Lilies. The fragrant blood stains her skin, for she is a smotherer. She grasps until she depletes the life out of this thing that she has, she becomes so utterly exhausted with these things and feels them so helplessly that they live short, but whose heart’s die hard. And even while mid-death she appreciates the scent of the kill. ‘This is what the end smells like.’, she must think, and simply closes her eyes and lets it die.
“I want to be held like a museum.” she said to me. “I want pieces of my hands framed in spacious rooms, six by six prints of knuckles against flesh. How beautiful it would be to have a building filled with nothing but occupied fingers. Sometimes I can look at a man’s hands and that is all I want to know before sleeping with him.”