out of season

It felt like fear or freedom, watching the fall, the whole way down.  It took just seconds.  The first with a thud.  I probably could have taken it back, then.  Picked it up.  Dusted it off.  Put it away, safe, warm.  But, the second – it shattered on impact and broke the one below.  I hadn’t realized I was holding my breath until my shoulders relaxed and I was grinning at C, thankful she’d had the courage I hadn’t been able to summon for just under three years.

Just like that.  Freedom.

The mugs your mom bought us for our first Christmas, now in the bottom of my kitchen trashcan. I’ve made room for something else.  Sometimes, even empty space is fuller.

With a long released breath, I don’t have to look at us anymore.


being there

“I lost her six months ago. It’s still fresh. And, for the first three months, I didn’t say anything. I couldn’t tell people. They’d just say, “Oh, I’m sorry,” and what do I say to that? Thank you?”
She told me that group support meetings helped, but there are just some things…
“How old were you when you lost your dad?”
“Do you think about it – like – ‘he won’t be there to walk me down the aisle?'” and, I laughed, shaking my head yes We think about all of it. Every possible world. No, it doesn’t really get easier. We’re not the kind of people who need to hear that. She continues, as though letting all of this out for the first time. “Normally I’d just call her, like today, and say,” she holds her hand up to her ear as though it’s a phone, “‘Mom, I met this really great person today’, but,” and she drops her hands in her lap and searches my eyes. “My mom won’t be here when I have my first child. What if something happens that hasn’t happened to me before? Who will I ask when something gross comes out of me – like – is this normal?”
She’s shaking her head. We’ve parked in front of my house, her hands are off the wheel and her eyes are locked on mine. I decide not to tell her that she has my mother’s eyes. Because, with this particular shade of gray blue, it’s likely that it’s a mutual eeriness. Instead, we just look at each other for long moments, both of us pretending that I don’t have to go. She thanks me, and says she hopes she gets me again. I’ve never had the same Uber driver twice, but it could happen.
We had tried to talk about other things. The weather, the roads, coffee, charities, and early mornings. We even tried silence, at first. But, if you let it, sometimes the real conversation will come out on its own.

I bet you’re loads of fun at parties

“I was going to invite you — and then I started thinking — how would people respond to you? — They’d say later, ‘she’s fascinating,’ and I’d say,” and he chuckles, shaking his head as though “fascinating” is a mistaken sentiment for a correct assumption, “she’s a whole lot of woman — be careful, man.”  It’s a rare time I’ve heard someone refer to me to another person as a woman, so I’m still grinning as we sip our drinks across from each other and he tells me about the people he knows, the ones I would meet if ever I’m invited.

So, I get to thinking, as I’m sitting in my room alone, while I’m riding the train with headphones, or as I’m reading a book at a table somewhere — everyone’s so great at being careful that I’m never invited to parties.

highs and lows

He shrugs that the only difference is happiness.

Marked by a foam topping of calm

on the surface of everything he was already

He’s still there, he says.

With a smile from soul to sole and a verse he hums

absently, he says that the revisions please him.

And sure, his low is lower than before

but his high is higher too.

Isn’t that what love does?


I do not know how to tell him

he’s changing.

That he says the same words

does the same things

but he moves just a fraction differently.

Like he’s itching for a fix.

And nothing    and no one   else

can alleviate, gratify, or pacify

the thirst pulsing in his pores

And I don’t know how to scream

at his happiness

that the problem with new boys is

they can do no wrong in his eyes

to his body      to his heart

and so he doesn’t even know it’s happened

until they’re lost boys   gone boys    far boys

and he’s cleaning up scrapes

and washing off dirt

they didn’t just leave on his skin.


He thinks this feeling is happiness

but there’s a grimace  across gaunt cheeks

and he says he doesn’t feel quite well.