dear john

And in your hand you hold the pieces, but I have given them to you piecemeal. You held them–all of them–for a time, but I regained while you were staring into the dark, lost in another direction.

You will crumble them, the pieces, until you are ready to put the puzzle of us together again.

You will try again and again in the dark. In the light you will feign ignorance and you will make them hate me. You will pretend to hate me.

You won’t.

I have left you incomplete. Mid-sentence.

You are missing the rest of me. You will feel this. You will wonder, ponder often, “what was there, before?”

From your memory you will imagine my words. What single distinct elements of speech might have been at the beginning of us. The beginning of this letter. I will not give them to you. 

Mourn me, as I will not mourn you. 

I will not come this way again. 



Tangy sweet bitterness of newly fallen blades permeates the still air of the house and she is distracted by the distant reverberations of the mower.
She doesn’t hear his words, not at first.
They settle into the lull in the gardening, carrying gently through the room until they catch her.
“Say the word. Just say the word and I’ll go.”
She starts but does not turn, her eyes catching the red stain on the linoleum.
Once a brilliant coral that they laughed about and covered with the vase, the one with the chip that only his mother would notice, it faded into the red of blood marring the tranquility of their kitchen. She traces her finger over it lightly now, wondering if they ever tried bleach.
“Okay,” she allows, not because she doesn’t have another word, the word he requires–she does have it, right there on the tip of her tongue–but she needs a moment to fill the time.
She was ready. Five minutes ago she was ready to say it:
“I can’t do this anymore. Go.
But now he’s said it first.
The sickening saccharine smell of Spring has crept through the drapes and settled over the wilted plants and her, too. She breathes in its fragrance, drunk in the lingering luxury of dogwoods. Spring is young and innocent and it has deceived her into thinking the frost is gone, deceived her into imagining the heat will last, deceived her into waiting for bulbs that will never bloom.
Possibility? She’s drunk with it.
She misses his glance, the way it lingers.
His eyes are hazel, not brown. For three years she thought about little dollops of caramel that they would produce with mops of brown curls. “Comparing my future grandchildren to food is disgusting,” his mother commented.
“Your mother is a bitch,” she commented later.
Their little dollops would have brown eyes, like ours she mused, aloud until he stopped listening.
She loved his eyes with the too-straight lashes. She loved the golden flecks that caught in the sun and rendered him beautiful.
The fourth year was different. It took four years to notice.
“What color are your eyes,” she asked over the silence of dinner.
Not an uncomfortable silence–they weren’t fighting. They fumbled over salt and pepper and their legs didn’t touch.
But they didn’t fight.
He shrugged.
“I thought…I thought they were brown.”
He shrugged.
“Did you add more salt to the roast?”
“It isn’t a roast. And no. I thought your eyes were brown.”
Now she bristles. He said the words first. It’s different. The words sound different emitted from him. Tinny and false.
She will leave him. She will live without him. He will miss her.
Five minutes ago she wanted this. She’s sure she did. She was going to say it, too, but she was busy and caught between the dishes and the infectious intoxication of direct sunlight and the words slipped from her mind.
She twists the ring around her finger, dragging it over her knuckles and placing it on the counter.
It tugs at her chest as it scrapes across the counter under his fingers but she does not cry out. The sun meets the diamond and creates a prism on the linoleum, hiding the stain.
Their eyes meet and she would swear now, in the sun, she would swear they are brown.
She wonders if they know each other, really.
He does.
She wonders if he knows her. If he does he’ll know she wants him to come back, eventually.
Go doesn’t mean forever.
Go doesn’t mean go for always.
She wonders if he’ll know she said it because she didn’t want him to, but she really didn’t mean it.


Consider this, our folly:
How foolish we are.
Early we rise. We go forth.
We plant that which we will
Never harvest.
If we harvest them, the plants, they are not ours.
We collect photographs.
Half listen to conversations
Waiting for our turn to speak.
We misstep.
We fumble awkwardly, a dance
For each other
that only we ourselves recognize.
We injure ourselves
As we injure others in love
And out.
We count our breaths
Our purest blessings.

The simple things we do
to keep ourselves bound to the earth.
Bound to each other.

Our purest blessings.
We count our breaths
And out.
As we injure others in love
We injure ourselves,
Only we ourselves recognize.
For each other we fumble awkwardly
A dance.
We misstep.
Waiting for our turn to speak.
Half listen to conversations.
We collect photographs.
If we harvest them, the plants, they are not ours
We plant that which we will never harvest
Early we rise. We go forth.
How foolish we are.
Consider this, our folly.


Vigorously I curse the chill, hoping it will make it beyond me to settle into the ether. Ivory innocence flecked with gold my curse will reach it and mar it.
Perhaps the gods will remember us.
Will remember me.
I ignore the squeal of the brakes as the car squeaks to a stop, pretend I don’t hear the insistent beep of the fuel indicator. I ignore the freezing ache that has settled into my joints, too, rolling the window up until it closes me in with a snap.
I hold the letter–once crisp, succinct, razor sharp–tightly in my fist.
Somehow the words, “your project has merit” sting more than, “we must unfortunately pass at this time.”
I’d rather my rejection kill me instantly. Don’t linger. A bullet to my brain, a dagger to my heart and straight through. Don’t bleed me.
This, the merit, it lingers. Do they say that to all of us? Does it have merit? Do I?

My cheeks burn and it is nothing to do with wind. I crumble the letter and drag out my phone. An executioner its presence in my palm is enough to still my heart.
I dial her, my mother, then I lose my nerve.
She’ll sic her god on me first. It isn’t so bad, and her prayers are melodic and sweet.
Her pride is what burns. Her voice, cool and comforting, becomes acrid in its sweetness.
“I’m so proud of you,” she’ll say. I’ll burn the letter hearing her words, wanting to blame her. She believes even now.
She believes in me even as much as she believes her prayers reach something, reach a place beyond even ether.
Why did you let me think I could do it, I want to blame her. Why did you let this goddamn dream linger?
I don’t say those things. Her voice salves my wounds and I come to her in voice a child.
“What now? What can I be now?” Her script must be tattered and torn, but she reads from it believably.
“I’m proud of you. You can be anything you want.”
When I go to the schoolhouse in the morning and break myself into pieces that they can devour, I believe her.
When I press pen to paper and submit again, the heart-stopping euphoria just like the first time giving me a pause I believe her.
When I make them dinner imagining those words, those worlds that I created validated, present beyond she and I I believe her.
I tell her I love her and she says have faith.
I feel foolish standing at my front door, key in hand. I feel like a fool whispering this under my breath like somewhere it will reach ears that are partial to me.
If you are there–
Just once. I only ask once. Remember me.

I am home before them and I begin the dishes but they are only partially complete. He sighs before he greets me, taking the cloth from my hands, now pruned enough to dull the ache.
George asks about my day without meeting my eyes. I smile and the words passed to him are dulled. “Fine. I got another rejection. This place was garbage, though.” He smiles, too, barely glances up from the fish he’s bathing in milk as he says,
“It’ll happen honey.”
I should ask, what if? What if I’m always here? In the in between? What if we never arrive? What if this is the most I am?
But I don’t. His voice is confident and world wise.
And I believe him.


You ache, skin first–
a splinter.
The wound (a wound is always
what it becomes,
then deepens.
Later relief, but
permanence is fleeting.

You contemplate all options.

Each of them.

You stare fearfully into the void.
You wonder if it stares back.

Death is not life’s opposite.
But sometimes it is for you.

A momentary reprieve, you feel the
Sweet burn of Sun, and it feels right.
But the burn begins to ache
and it lingers.

It always lingers.
The ache is always bone deep.

It festers and you think they smell it.
They will know.

You want the ache, you do.
Sometimes you want nothing,
but you want the ache more.
The ache is something and in spite of everything
In spite of this you know it

and it is better than not knowing.

You consider suicide.
Not so that you don’t feel…
you will
feel something else.


They will tear open what is left of me
what they find.

Lie–tell them that my “soul” is free.

Know it isn’t, know I have
lost my mind.