“the neighbor’s house smelled
like the ocean when i walked past,” you say.
“it’s a sign that i’m drowning.”
“i stepped in two patches of fresh dirt.
it’s a sign that they’ll be digging my grave.”
“i saw the boy i’d lost my virginity to today.
it’s a sign that i’m going to cheat on you.”
“you wake me up with this shit,” he says in annoyance.
“is that a sign i should break up with you?”
“no,” you say, not looking at him, fighting
to keep smiling. “it means -”
he goes back to bed.
he thinks you don’t get it,
but you do.
he teaches you about chemistry,
about physics and the stars.
he teaches you that the universe is finite,
but constantly expanding;
he takes you hand to his chest, and says
“like my feelings for you.”
used to be, you thought he was your gravity
because you were so drawn to him
but gravity’s only a theory.
you’re just hopelessly stuck in his orbit now.
covalent bonds share pairs of electrons.
with him, you share absolutely nothing.
but now you’re two dying stars.
now, you’re burning out.
“i’m considering writing you into a book
where we both died.
wouldn’t it be easier if we died right now?”
“how would it be easier?”
“we would die thinking we still love each other.
we wouldn’t have to face that it’s not true.”
"you wouldn't," he says. "you mean you."
after a minute, you wipe your eyes. “yes.”
“i mean me.”
“i’m not religious,” you say one day,
“but i believe in hell.”
“did you record my show?”
“hell for me is a little different.
my version is meeting a man after you.
he asks me out, and i tell him no
because you happened to me.”
he stands. “okay. i think i should go.”
of course he doesn’t.
and the next day, you go out. you hold hands.
hands connect you, but only on a physical level.
it’s small. it’s nothing.
hands can’t hold the pieces of you together.
you suppose, in the future, you two will need
this steady reference point
against which to measure all the catastrophic motions
your bodies will take
when you finally
you teach him about literature,
bukowski and nabokov.
you teach him that reading is medicine
because the biggest risk is a paper cut.
he is a poem, and he is free verse.
his stanzas are exhilaratingly unpredictable,
the repetition of “i love you, i love you, i love you”
the only steady thing in your ear.
you were his favorite book but there’s a cost
because he’s broken your spine.
he’s dogeared your pages, the parts of you he liked,
and left a permanent dent in you.
you keep writing. you write a house. you write yourself
and him in it, with a picket fence and two dogs.
you can’t write him a new soul, but you try.
the law of the conservation of energy states
that no matter can be created or destroyed.
that necklace he made for you,
it could be made out of saturn’s rings,
or stardust, millions of years old.
and his love for you –
it’s still out there, somewhere.