He found alcohol at age six,
sloshing in the pit of his father’s stomach,
waves of it crashing down as he held
his mother’s thumb and cried softly.
Blackened eyes and bruised lips,
and it wasn’t makeup on her face.
Or on his.
The pain of it wasn’t something rouge or mascara could cover up.
By sixteen, he was ¾ whiskey, ¼ nectarines.
That was only in the summertime, though,
and winter crashed down with broken bottles and broken bones.
Orange peels make insufficient bandaids.
He met a girl with hair like honey in the Autumn,
but she complained that he tasted like a bad night in the back of a bar
and all the water in the world wouldn’t wash it off of him.
He ate peppers when he tried to quit the first time,
hoping they’d replicate the way it went down, burning like kerosene.
But he puked them up a half hour later, stomach
not ready to be put out just yet.
He realized he was anything but inflammable.
Falling off the bandwagon ended in three nights in the hospital,
a mechanical arm pouring new blood into him,
trying to put him out.
He pretended to try to quit again,
but he poured vodka in his coffee instead of cream.
He left his home every morning quietly,
like he was a regrettable fuck left over from a one-night stand,
but he came back every night,
like a kicked dog, saying
I’m sorry that I’m made up of more liquor than love.
I could have loved you, in a different time, a different place—a different life, perhaps. I would have loved you, because it had all the makings of love, I’m sure of it. Did you see it the same? You must’ve. You must’ve felt it, too. Was I the Tiresias of our tale? Have I been blind this entire time? If crippled in sight, then so, too, am I crippled in hand. I write no more. Nothingness pervades.
1. I know I want you, all irrational fears and shameful vulnerability aside. I know because I’ve woken up thinking of you for the past three days and last night I dreamt of you and I remember it. Vividly.
2. Sometimes I am an ocean, heavy and cold, and I’m only able to find warmth in the smallest of distractions: long walks down all the familiar roads, slow songs on repeat for hours, rereading all the passages I’ve marked over the years, trying to find one that relates best to a feeling I’m convinced I’ll never understand. But I know the value of my depth now. I’ve learned how to adore me.