There is a shipwreck between your ribs and it took eighteen years
for me to understand how to understand your kind of drowning.
There are people who cannot be held quietly. There are screams
that are never externalized. If I looked at the photo albums of your
past twenty years, all I would find are decibel meter graphs of
phone calls and the intensity of your silence as you sat
smoking cigarettes in the garage.
There is a shipwreck between your ribs. You are a box with
fragile written on it, and so many people have not handled you
And for the first time, I understand that I will never know
how to apologize for being
one of them.
I held your heart in my fingers
Now it’s gone, it’s gone, it’s gone. And you will never admit
that you bid the wind blow the flames out
and buried the coals in the sea.
You tricked me!
You came back. And you brought floods.
Wearing a necklace made of hearts that you’d dragged through the mud.
And I guess I wasn’t quite sure what to say to you.
But then I saw mine, almost reached out to grab it,
said, “Darling, you’re the only one on earth I’d want to have it.”
But now I’m not so sure that was true -
after the hell you put it through.
But there was no sharp pain this time,
just the ghost of your presence compressing my chest like a vine.
An unshakable absence,
like most of my insides crawled out through my mouth and went West.
But that’s fine.
We cast our hearts in plaster.
We imagined our bodies were fashioned from stone.
But they chipped at the brick and the mortar -
we found out that we’re only layers of skin hiding bone.