I sit on a long tongue of blank carpet waiting for the ceremony to begin. Listening to the gentle sts-sts-sts of the bamboo whisks striking thin bone, we look at each other. I find her expression difficult to read. This was all her idea. Initially, I was just concerned about the logistics- the cost of having to fly everyone to Japan. I didn’t even think about the difficulty we would all have involving language. For this reason it took much longer finding the chashitsu for the wedding. And of course, there were other cultural things we had to consider. I was doubtful, for instance, that we would be allowed to have a wedding like this. I was certain some kind of cultural police would put a stop to it, could still put a stop to it. And yet, it was going quite nicely. We looked at each other from across the tatami floor where the long green carpet unspooled between us. I liked the concepts of Sabi and Wabi I learned in Japan the first couple days here and ended up incorporating them into my vows, written with the aid of too much Suntory Toki. I wrote something about wanting to see the beauty imparted onto each other by time and care while also cherishing our unpolished selves, enjoying the present with each other. Overall, it was a great wedding. I enjoyed it. I had never been to Japan, much less participated in a Japanese Tea Ceremony, and I don’t know when else I would have been able to do either. Mostly, I enjoyed it because, well, no harm telling you now that it’s done. It was her idea to get married. Initially, I was just concerned about the logistics- the cost of having to bind your life to another irrevocably. But I became certain in my decision to propose when she walked down the aisle, and we faced each other. Lifting the veil, I saw in her eyes the same dislike, distrust, and fear that I felt. Dislike because this society makes us believe we should hold onto only one of 7 billion inhabitants. Distrust and fear in a future together, in one another, and in the word “forever.” And when I saw that, I knew. This is someone I can spend the rest of my life with.
let me tell you of the day I tripped over my wasted body, all that youth he plundered and shaved off, whittling my heart until it was a twig he could snap, dropping the pieces as he walked away. I found my body there in the shallow runoff water, in the gullies and trenches of dirt, matted hair mistaken for ferns, dulled goldenrod. My hands I turned into spades, dug in and lifted my splintered self, staggering out of the drudges, dirt clinging to me. I shoveled inside myself, unearthing him from my body, upheaval of grime and grief. I lay his head down next to the rest. Gently. I use his remnants, that foul blooming decay, to irrigate my dreams, my visions of you. My shovel hands glint in the sun as I drop the spades and wail. I sing you to life, to vibrant being. Thrusting my hands into moist earth and ripping at the roots, lifting them up, sprouting whole women with low-swinging hips, fleshly orbs of breast, small and large, pink, pinched, and tart as a rhubarb stem, dark blue and marbled as a bruised grape, hair writhes, backs arch, toes splay and the dirt exults at finally being loosed, I exult in being finally loosed, rejoice in the ability to loose others, unfastening those roots which bind and bury, daughters you are my lineage and my sovereign
have no lack of love, but what a gift to give you mine, to join my hands with all the women before me who have held your beautiful head. I was afraid this time of the absence you would leave, a firm footprint at the base of my heart, welling up slowly with salt water, an ache that last time spilled out, overwhelmed, and drowned me. I let that fear keep me from saying and touching and feeling and let’s be honest, loving you as much as I wanted. But the sun rose and dusted the waxy leaves of the houseplants with its golden pollen and as I watched the sun creep over the small hairs on your arms and chest, incinerating them with light, a stray flame crept over me. I watched the rosy pink dawn fill the spaces of your powerful body and as the long streaks of sun started to caress the length of your body, my cheeks flushed and I joined my heart with the sun in loving you, fully, warmly, without reservation.
If only we could treat the ones we have in our lives,
the ones we love in our lives,
the way we treat our favorite poems
Worrying over favorite lines, with furrowed brows
Trying to understand,
that which can never be learned
that which has a meaning mercurial
changing every time
dodging full comprehension
the way fish slip out
of even the strongest hands
into water, glinting
To search without end,
and return to forever
To show others–
Look at this turn of phrase,
look at this exquisite word
picked and burnished
from all the others
Never to learn you, only by heart,
your depths unconquerable
by any mind
Trusting we can know nothing with certainty
but always trying
We need to invent another language together.
Can you do that for me?
Can we construct our own indestructible tower
of words undefilable
words that are joy shout and YESSS
Because as it stands, you tell me
You like me
I like power over you
You tell me you have thought about us being together
And I wonder how many other women perfume your mind,
our legs entwining in your nucleus accummmmmmbens
You tell me my body is perfect, made for you
I own you.
I know you tell others the same,
Assembling parts of our perfect bodies
to use interchangeably
A fraternity dream on your hippoCampus
You tell me Always with enough uncertainty that
I translate: Always,
be afraid that I will leave you
You ask me Do you love me?
How much of yourself would you kill for me?
A boy is funny, sweet, maybe even Good
He tells me he likes me
And I need to throw up.
There are no clean words anymore.
In order to continue,
we need another way,
of speaking love– that vile and defiled word
You can’t call me baby
I’m going to need another nickname- may I suggest, woman.
Show less certainty in your feelings,
the only action I believe is hesitation
You know what, on second thought
we are going to have to do away with forever and trust altogether
And we can’t hug, we can’t cuddle,
We definitely can’t fuck.
Maybe we can vroomf , blurffle, and grumck instead.
Even safety and comfort I am uncomfortable with.
You tell me,
I love you
I will abuse you
Inhaling and exhaling sleep in some dark corner, I was muttering deep in a cavernous slumber when you tore me outside of myself. I could hear your void before I surfaced. You mistook my emptiness for loneliness, and followed me around, looked at me with love or at least some expectation of it, as if I could respond, as if I am dependable, fully operational. I tried to shake you, tried to circle around, swim in broad strokes with my back turned to you. I even ran away, numbed myself to your advances, took all the back roads. But step for step, you matched, found, and stayed with me. Maybe this is what love is, I don’t know. Someone who doesn’t leave, even when you want them to. Someone who keeps pace, who is as restless, exhaustive and exhausted, as tired as you.
I think what you need to do is a 7-day juice cleanse, and to eat only organic foods…lots of bulgur wheat, tamarind rind, and soft overripe persimmon. You need to take care of yourself since no one else seems to be up for the job!
You may want to dissipate, becoming nothing so your outside can match how you feel on the inside. This is a difficult option and I can’t recommend it. But if you feel like you need to dissipate, do a combination of hot yoga, soul cycle, and starvation. This way, you can slowly wither away. Your calves will become as narrow as your ankles and your skin will grow leathery like a bike seat left out for too many seasons with stuffing falling out of it.
As for the erasure of your soul and identity, it’s pretty simple. Marie Kondo that shit! Turn yourself inside out and gently shake contents. Assess what is necessary to the makeup of your person. If you didn’t bring them joy, you probably won’t bring someone else joy so caramelize your body like a banana with tanning oil, and flay yourself. If that’s too violent for you, just do, say, and think everything you’ve never done, said, or thought. Become someone completely different, someone this could never have happened to.
Try to have a good support group…maybe 4 or 5 friends to text you mechanically every day what a wonderful person you are you don’t deserve what has happened to you it isn’t you it’s them I love you so much you’ll find someone else so soon I’m here for you whenever you need me. Cycle to the next friend once the disinterest and frustration at your inability to get over this whole heartbreak thing becomes visible in the subtext of their texting.
Try to fill at least 3 moleskins with pathetic questions along the lines of did he/she ever love me? Why did this happen? How long will this pain last? Fill your head with doubts and insecurities about the kind of person you are and what you could have done better. Constantly look for things you did wrong…be curious!…explore and figure out why you aren’t loveable. Cease to be a person, and instead seek to be a large mass of unanswered questions gnawing voraciously at itself for some kind of moral lesson or self-knowledge.
You have to take up a kind of mental running to outrun the memories, the now- living nightmares of your shared past. It will be like trying to outrun the sun or your own shadow. You will have to leave parts of your mind and heart behind you as you run, next to urine-soaked couch cushions and dilapidated chairs on the sidewalk.
Or maybe you are going to want to sleep with a bunch of people soon after to cleanse yourself and to feel close to someone, desirable to someone, anyone at all. Make sure you squeeze your eyes really tight and try your best not to cry the first couple times someone else touches you, not to cringe the first time someone kisses you, because that would be really awkward for them and they don’t deserve that and this is just your life now so grow the fuck up and try to make as many new painful memories as possible to forget about the current ones.
And don’t fall in love with any of these new people. You don’t mean anything to them, you could be anyone to them. Just like everyone else, they will lose interest as soon as they know you a little better, once they see that you are no longer a person, but a gaping aching hole of need, wounded, raw, and freshly salted.
The most important thing I can suggest for you is to let your sadness expand like hair underwater…let it branch out, weave in, and cocoon you in a bleak palace of cool shade. Sit in a treehouse of your own grief, allow the maggots of time to wear away the branches, and let the numb and the hot and the sorrow project infinitely until they lose color and cohesion.
The hold will weaken, the tape in the projector will slowly strip itself from overuse, and I promise that one day you will find that you crave again the warmth of the sun on your face, and you will turn over.