I Am Made and Destroyed by the Heat of Love.
My love lay me across a mountain.
He draped me there, like fingers and fingers of hair, from nervous moments, the way you may twirl a large amount of dead mass around the index and middle when you are incessantly thinking. Tightly bound, carelessly wound. The heat was indescribable. The wind was inescapable. My muscles moved even when my body didn’t, they were reaching.
Every part of me was reaching, each molecule rising up to greet the aching that tore through me like a proper California wildfire. My love lay me across a mountain. He left me there.
I stayed for 267 days without water, I survived on drops from the air, carried to me in waves. It comes in waves. It will always come in waves. In my reaching and draping, I could not contain the urgency with which I wanted to press my mouth to something, anything at all, but mostly the only mouth that fit. Impressionable.
My body became like a kindergarten plaster of Paris project, haphazardly arranged, marked, contorted, but touched by hands of pride.
Paris, I thought. So many days when I would just walk and find everything I needed, poems recited to my face in the middle of the night, drugs with a dying friend, words pouring out of me relentlessly, dripping down my cheeks and from the back of my neck, pouring and pounding from places I didn’t even know I could feel.
Plaster of Paris is made by calcining gypsum. I am made and destroyed by the heat of every unmentionable thing and warm memory clashing inside of you, beating against each other, making their scorching presence known through fingers and sharp use of your tongue.
My love left me in the forest, to be fed to the moss. He took me there, where it was quiet, so I would be silent. I was busily looking at the trees, so much bark and fir pine, textures. I wanted to lick it all. On the rare occasion I was allowed a question, I made sure it was exactly what I needed to say. Nothing that came out of me anywhere you placed me had anything less than 17 meanings. Choose your own adventure.
One day you will find someone who breaks you in half, he promised me. I counted my ribs. Only four left intact, and all at the bottom, keeping a paltry amount of air in my lungs, heaving. My legs heavy, glued to the earth, but the light — the light was sparkling like dirty river water on a hot summer day. The decorated river. Trash like ornaments, remnants of disregard, objects carelessly thrown after they’d served their purpose. Full usage.
The light, the water, it’s beautiful, but there are corpses at the bottom.
“One foot in front of the other.”
I was talking to myself. I do this. Sometimes in the mirror, though then I get the sense that I am being watched, that I might be caught in the act. “Don’t do that,” I think. “Stop,” I whisper. 392 days in New York, and I knew what I was getting into, but today the blender was on high, the blades ripping through my dress, while I careened around like a loose cannon in an underground playground decorated with bright lights and wrinkled skin.
“Do you think you’re worthy of being loved?”
“Your mind says otherwise.”
I undulate through time as I try to find things to occupy my mind. I look at the floor, it’s the same as when you were standing on it, though I only remember a fragment of your shoes. My memories like stained glass, powerful and colorful, yet arranged in a way to fit together that requires much creativity. You forced me to find a system for understanding my existence in your presence. I am an architect. I am an excavator.
I am a curator of disastrous things.
“Did you miss me? Do you enjoy my presence?”
“Do you forget the things I write to you?”
Earlier I had been bent over a desk. Wood grain. Red skin. Contrary to my room full of crystals and insinuations of angels. Earlier than that I was walking, past churches, past bodies decaying, past teenagers swapping spit betwixt braces.
Of all the facets of life, how is it that we settle so incessantly on what will impact us the most, when it lasts the least? What is it about aliveness that makes our bones rattle so deeply with a rage from wanting to move more quickly than our legs and eyes will take us? What word is there to embody this?
Love is nothing but an endless series of questions, a sharp set of teeth in your valves, and an undying devotion to being awake because sleep is rendered useless.
Love is everything including the very slowness of minutes when you await affection, the unbearable desire of wanting to fit yourself inside of a cavern that can’t hold you, the sky burnt orange and blue, and how reminiscent it is of flames, of gasoline lit by a match, the way your skin feels when you walk by someone who tears your mouth in two but can’t meet your eyes. Emotion is available to all. Anyone can love.
It takes a human made of silver to be willing to wage the war, arms dripping in gold. Is this what we live for? It is. I warned myself. We live for the flames. We live for the heat and the unbelievable warmth of never having answers to any of the questions.
This is not about love at all. This is about bravery. This is about arriving. This is about the grey morning when your feet hit the floor and it’s cold, and you realize you’ve repeated this sequence now 394 times. The 394th day in New York. You blink and bend backward on command, and suddenly, you have been here far more days than there are numbers. Hours heavy, light, wet, luminescent.
You could think of the time when you watched me lean against the radiator, my fingers clawing at the wood of the window pane. You could think of how my voice trailed against your chest when you were pressing hard behind my back. You could think of how you may never feel that again. You could think of how you never saw my face. You could think of how you thought you were taking things to claim as yours, and how I took them back.
You could think of how you never saw this coming. You could think of how taken aback you were by my last words, and where they came from, and why. You could think of how if love is a war, those most adept at strategy will never divulge for an instant that they have their secrets planned.
You could think of how there is nothing more important than the courage to be without masks in a world that insists on them, and how I knew you better than you would have ever wanted me to. You could think of how two years is enough time for roots to grow so deep that they will return even when they are burnt beneath the ground by the sheer force of will.
You could think of how I woke up crying for days on end, and I wasn’t sure why, but I hit my knees even in your absence and begged to released. Love is an action, not just a feeling. Perhaps now we both understand.
I will be in your skin until the day your body dies.