laid bare

When last we met I kissed you, but nothing was shared. Our lips met for a moment painful in its brevity, and for an instant, a particle of dust in time my life’s air passed between us.

My finger was naked, the ring left on the bedside table. You didn’t mention the pale sliver left in its absence, the permanent scar the ring made.

Your foot nudged my own and the contact robbed me of all rational thought.

From afar I wondered how I came to be there. What madness drove me to you? What insanity kept me?

From there I wondered only that I did not notice us in time, there I wondered about the strength that the barrier of marriage made. Would it hold against us? Would it keep you out?

Out of the window we watched a summer Georgia rain–a painfully short, too warm rain that leaves you breathless and wanting–pass us by, wishing that we were both in it. Had I believed in sin I would have wanted the water to baptize me, or wash away all trace of you.

The memory of you still burned my lips.

Red clay washed the sidewalk in its burnt orange hue; the sky was painted an angry, bitter gray. Cream and ivory magnolias hung heavy on the trees flanked by deep earthen green, and dense streaks of yellow pollen trailed down the glass of frozen cars.

We stood together, desperate for color, aching to leave our monochromatic selves. The only sound between us was the cry of rain.

No word seemed large enough to give to you when last we met; under my breastbone I discerned the pain of my heart thrashing against its cage. Even the tears of the heavens could not drown its sound. I wondered if you could hear it also.

Drawn together we turned, the rain falling against the pane as tears I could not shed.

You stole my breath and I hated you.

My hatred streaked across the sky and we both cried out. You took my hand in yours and I noted the softness beneath the callouses and you said it was because of the years you spent carving me from granite. I broke you again and again, you said, and yet you could not leave me unfinished.

You did not say then that you hated me.

You kissed me and everything was shared and I knew how much you hated me; you pulled the breath from me and a dam broke and the tears of heaven could not rival mine. You forced yourself into me, ripping into my sinews and past, injecting yourself into the marrow in my bones, tearing my soul to pieces, taking parts with you so that it would not be whole again.

You have never known my body and I want you to; you pillage my soul and it will not heal. My lips burn as you pull away from me and your eyes do not meet mine.

She walks in and I see her ring as it steals light from the sun. She belongs to you, will have your name and your life soon but you do not belong to her. Your gaze pierces the scar that the ring made and I feel naked again.

You pretend not to know me and in your eyes you hate me. She belongs to you but you belong to me and I only want to belong somewhere and you hate me.

When last we met it was summer and there was rain enough to baptize me or to wash you from me.

The ring compresses my finger and I am property, and in part I belong to him. You have the rest and I hate you.

I imagine your lips and your soul and the thrashing that only you produce and the peak that only you have shown or seen and

I remember that the kiss was your goodbye. You said goodbye and I said nothing and I miss you and you do not miss me and I hate you.


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