You would be wrong
Thinking I have fled you
Thinking you have fled me
It is the unpressed nucleus
The unuttered understanding
The auguries that spell perditions
You would be wrong
When my present is multitudes
Knotting with your pasts
You would be wrong
And that is not all.
I’ve lived in small spaces all my life
Lifetimes and avenues
Walked with you
My existence splintered where it meets yours
We have lived the grandest of lives
Been people, and then been others
We have gone and come again
Existences poked and prodded through the Needles
Dying when the other pulls through
Living together, sometimes apart
Sometimes never meeting.
Nine lives to match the cats
We always wished we could be.
In one lifetime,
My heart is sixteen years old
And yours is ancient, callous, cold
I give you everything
And you don’t trust me
This is the story of how I write books to make you forgive
And you, you look for lines so you can read between them.
There is another one, where I am graceless
But you are unconcerned about it
We bond over music and green tea
And exchange fervent recommendations
That border on the aggressive
So that it makes me smile
That passion of yours suffusing every title
And the rich tartness in the tea
And you cannot wait, and I can’t contain it
And sometimes, I even think I may
That is not all, that is not it.
In another, I break your heart so many times you
Come to expect it, like the end of a calamitous song
We see each other this way and that
Cocking our expectations
Slanting our heads
Angling our gazes
Clinging onto the airless center like it’s a ball of light
Which we will never figure out
And it is probably for the best.
Here I peer another tangent
Ever so slight, ever so parallel
But it makes all the difference
Because where you once loved me
Now it is the other way around
And I am unmoved by it.
I feel old.
That is not all, that is not all.
I spy another
But this one is dim, dull, bleak
We are grieving for bygones, lovers lost
Superimposing their souls onto each other
Disappointed when the likeness does not assuage
The shattered heart
And what could have been never is
Which does not matter because I am but a drop of ink in your water
And you are a thumb of graphite, streaked on the side of my page
I do not, cannot care
And it soothes me when you likewise don’t.
This one should have been left alone.
Here a version, where
Nothing is funny, and everything’s a joke
My sense of humor sours and you take to appraising
My character with hilarious, devastating takedowns
I will drive off with the last word,
Dashing away at your fragile ego
With a witty, well placed observation on your tragic upbringing
And it will make you smile even as you excoriate
And that is not all, not all.
Life number sixteen:
You leave me
But I keep your books
And every now and then
I smell them to remind me of
When you ask for them, the lie skates smoothly down my tongue
I tell you I’ve already given them
Away, sold them
Palming coins to illustrate my point.
My favorite cycle is also my worst
Kindling my masochism because it’s the only thing I cherish more than you
In it, you struggle with some secret pain
But you leave me out of it
And so I begin to do the same.
But years later you will say that I was the one, pushed you out
The way I pushed out snow, caked up on the sills of our apartment window.
There will be another time,
When Chance, munificent Chance will
Chance a glance on us again.
Your mother will try to hate me, but I am a paragon
Your careless father will pretend he doesn’t care, but I am Beguilement Itself
Your brother will wish that I had chosen him instead.
I end up bowed over you
And we make deathbed promises
Sated with the fruits of our rapture.
But that is not it.
It’s not yet the one I think of
Not the one I’ll think of years later
When I cross paths with you, a stranger one summer morning
Caught between two errands
You will stun me
Then and there
And I will not know your name
But I will never forget you
Forget the children I imagine for me and you
Forget the tangles we could make together
Forget the potential that fades as soon as you exit my periphery
Taking the clarity with me
You will break my heart, you whose name I will never learn (though I will certainly speculate)
But you will also save my life
Because I will look to the future as the softest place to fall
As long as it holds the promise that another summer morning may come
Where you and I will meet again.
In some separate continuance, your insecurities bend with my callowness
You, a seasoned cynic
I: have never been kissed
This is what you know: that I would endure it all for anyone
This is what I don’t: that your kindness, dangled under your contempt, will break me.
(And I don’t think some of you boys understand
The power that you have
How you can undo a girl with a barbed wire of a word
Dragged gently across her heart
It is casual
And all the more punishing for it
Casual and clever
In a clueless, guileless way
A guileless sort of way
— but I was saying. That is not yet the point.)
In the semantics of our lives, one sliver of me
Will meet your wholeness
And you will try to complement me
And I go mad thinking you will save me
When I should know better by now
Being a liver of life
And an inveterate reader of ghastly fairy tales
Whose morbid true versions
Hold nothing to their shiny counterparts
I’m eager to believe in, because
Here, a pitiful glimpse
You are the white noise I let whisper in the background
The simmering television screen I leave on for comfort
The tuneless music I dial up for company
The brouhaha that steels my loneliness
And why do I keep thinking we’re Saturday?
And why am I watching this again?
There, a sweeter one
Take a breath, I’ll take one too
I’ll make you like bowling again, might even tolerate mini golf
Peel off those tepid, tarnished memories you have of pointless sports
And we’ll sate ourselves on promises
We don’t dare yet speak aloud
For fear of what, of what.
And that is not all, not yet.
This one stream runs completely separate
And ever more troubling for it
We end up together
Sit on bar tables in crowded restaurants
Footnotes in each other’s lives
Scattered for the sake of others
If we both looked up, we could read eternity in each other
But you don’t like eye contact, and besides
I only wear shades.
Another one finds me the victim
Of your rancor, long fingers reaching from past experiences
Caressing warnings for you, that
Only you can sense.
They echo: she is dangerous
And you will treat me as such
Realizations, barred and nettled
Over imagined foreboding.
In one story, you get comfortable too quickly
You call me “baby”, which chafes, but also somehow doesn’t
You speak low over the music, so that I have to get closer to hear you
And it works.
You would be wrong
Thinking I have fled you as you are
When we are fleeing everything we could be
And that is not all:
Like clockwork, our treads hammering the face
Our needles chase after one another
Chiming about regrets, about lifetimes and avenues
Of treachery and reverence
I dance away your mangled heart with glee
Because I can
And you will hate me (there are too many versions where you hate me)
Even as you double back
Six times you will lose, in order:
Your will, that vital urgency to live
Your — I might stop there.
And you will call me Bluebeard
A thief and murderer after your own lapidated heart
And of all there is, that might be all.
A. Martine is a trilingual writer, musician and artist who goes where the waves take her. She might have been a kraken in a past life. She’s an Assistant Editor at Reckoning Press and a Managing Editor of The Nasiona. In addition to her own website, some of her fiction, nonfiction and poetry can be found or is forthcoming in: Berfrois, The Rumpus, Bright Wall/Dark Room, Metaphorosis, Medium, RIC Journal, Lamplight, the Score! anthology, TERSE. Journal, Gone Lawn, Truancy Mag, Confessionalist Zine, Ghost City Review. Follow her @Maelllstrom/www.maelllstrom.com.