Seven Deadly Sins

When you left, I wanted to come with you.
I think about it still, every breath I take an inconvenience.
When I see you in my sleep, you tell me hearing this makes
you sad. In my dreams, you tell me to remember only the
good times but when you left, my heart,
everything good left, too.
Everything good and beautiful went with you.

When you left, I dug myself a shallow grave next to you.
I was a child again, imitating every little thing you do –
you knew you were always my role model so this was the
most natural thing I could do.
Because you left.

You left. I saw it happen.
I begged you to stay but you couldn’t hear me,
couldn’t see me, you had to go;
and I wanted nothing more than to leave everything
behind and come with you.

Wherever you are, I still would rather be next to you.

If not for me, then for that time you said nothing
was more painful to you than being away from us
and I know,
I know you’re not hurting anymore.
They keep telling me you’re no longer in pain.
But I am still holding your hand in that horrible room
and begging you to stay.
Half a year later, I am still crying at
your feet as I have to watch you leave.

Baba, you always knew I wrote poetry.
And even though you never read any of it, you were always
proud of me.
But what you didn’t know was that you had made my life so
beautiful, so easy –

I had always envied the poet who didn’t have to borrow or
exaggerate pain to write, but now I understand,
now I know,
I would rather have you here than the pain I need to write
this poem.

I/We

The places in your heart love leaves,
darkness enters, she says. We’ve
all seen it slither in, filling voids
by creating new ones. I nod this
time. She says it might be our fault.
We’re the ones with our eyes
so open, we haven’t tasted sleep
in decades. Not everyone is like
this. We see it all and we’re fucking
terrified. Aren’t you always just
waiting for the next bad thing, baby?
I see it in your eyes, she says:
you’re waiting for the earthquake,
the hurricane, the explosion, the
next fucking disaster. It’s all you can
think of. There are places in your heart
that are all places, no heart, baby. Why
won’t you let me in? Let me tell you,
darling, you’ve got it all wrong, I swear.
I know I used to have my eyelids stapled
up and down to keep from blinking.
I know when we met, my chest
was always on fire. Always burning,
burning, burned, and by day’s end:
black ash. But then two years ago,
you kissed me for the very first time.
I slept that night. I didn’t even know
it until it was the next morning, sun
erupting out of my chest, blinding me.
Do you remember? The places in my
heart you entered, dark turned to light
and that light turned to us and suddenly,
no voids, no hurricanes, no bad things.

Water

And grief is the first thing we know,
shooting outside of our mothers like cannonballs,
leaving our first homes behind by force,
screaming. And grief follows us even
after, trailing our footsteps like an obsessed lover,
lurking in the shadows, waiting to pounce.
You said you knew what I was talking about.
You said you saw it too. But there are scars
on my body you don’t understand
and they’re making me doubt your honesty.
You said, “Grief takes on too many lovers, baby,”
said, “it’s been inside me, too,” but your skin
is unmarked and mine shivers in anticipation
and I don’t know how to believe a word
you’re saying. Do you remember it, darling?
Do you even know the story? One night, I tripped
and fell into a puddle and Grief made it into an
ocean and we swam together for days on end
until my arms gave in. Does this ring any bells?
Okay, one night, I tripped and fell into an ocean and
Grief swam with me for days on end and my arms
grew stronger by the day. This is the lie I tell
myself. One night, I walked out of my house,
footsteps calculated, careful, sure. I saw an
ocean and I jumped in. Grief was the first
thing I knew and I wanted to unknow it,
so I jumped into an ocean of you and you,
touched by grief but resilient still,
swallowed me up and named the stars
after me. This is the real story: I met you
and everything I had known before you
I had suddenly forgotten. I do not want to fill in
the blanks in my memory.

Winter

The wind doesn’t know which way to blow,
says ‘guide me’ to the trees, but even they
won’t listen. Even they feel hollow inside
sometimes. Even they have their pasts carved
into their trunks, every struggle written on their
skin, but they forget.
This is a disaster.
The wind doesn’t know which way to go.
A storm is coming. The storm says:
‘I’m here to take you home’.
Yesterday you believed it. Today you’re a little
more sceptical. Today you ask it where ‘home’
is but it changes the subject. Today you grab
a map, hold it to its face and demand an answer.
You are standing and the wind is holding your
hand – wants to go home too, wants to leave.
The storm says:
‘I’m here to take you home’.
The wind says ‘guide me’, but you don’t know
and you don’t listen, can’t listen, its pleas
making your head spin.
Today it is a year later.
Today it is winter again.
The wind is lost and you are too. There is a storm
inside of you and outside of you. It said it would
take you home. It said it would take you home
and you’ve only been going around in circles.
It said it would take you home but you’re just
realizing it doesn’t even know what ‘home’ is.

No (or “Yes, yes, yes.”)

i. When you said you no longer recognized me,
baby,
I burned our house down,
danced chest-to-chest with the flames
to see if that would trigger your memory.

ii. On the fifth of this month, I sat outside on a
balcony in the mild early-October cold and cried
so hard my skin shrivelled with dehydration. You
were leaving on a plane, leaving a whole continent
to mourn your absence, and I thought you were
leaving me.

iii. We peppered the New York City streets
with Eskimo kisses. I think the alleyways and
the street corners and all the avenues will
always remember us.

iv. I still remember the first day we met. Five
hundred and ninety-one days of learning
there is good in the world, and it has always
been here in the form of you.

v. You said you no longer recognized me.

vi. I didn’t know how to understand that.

vii. Yes, I burned down our house that night,
baby. Made love to the flames slowly as they
ate me up.  I swear I tried to shout out “FIRE”
but I could only moan it inside my mouth over
and over, quietly, silently throughout the
night.

viii. I don’t remember much from that night.
I wasn’t myself and I don’t think you were you,
but then I woke up and you were holding me,
lips pressing on my lips, hands shaking and
terrified, but still pushing firm against my chest.
1, 2, 3, 4,
you saved me.

ix. Distance is a liar and she twists our words
around and pours acid on them before they
reach us. We learned that the hard way.

x. You said you no longer recognized me. But
I’m still that cynical hopeless romantic you
fell in love with millenniums ago, and I still love
you with my eyes and my hands and my belly
and all my heart and my lungs and my brain
and my worn-out words.

xi. I still remember the first day we met.
You asked me if I believed in love, and I meant
to say “no”, tried to push it off my tongue with
all my might.

xii. “Yes”. A word so foreign; so estranged from
me; so peculiar and outlandish. Yesses rolling
off my tongue into your palms, into your mouth
and your collarbones.

xiii. The New York City street lights have missed
you – I know. The trees in Central Park long to
breathe in your scent again.

xiv. Take my hand in yours again, love. Rest
your head on my shoulder. In forty years, I
promise we’ll laugh about this.