The coffee is bitter like my pride, so I soften it with tired presence. I pretend to be surprised by this, by the taste of burnt earth, too warm on my tongue. The wind cracks my window and welcomes herself in, making comfort on my desk.
You really don’t know what you’re doing, do you? She looks at my open and empty notebook, almost scoffing at the lack of ink.
Surprised? I sigh back, knowing the last time I made a decision in full hearted confidence was my tattoo. It’s been nearly a year since then.
She takes my hair and begins to braid, weaving strands in and out of themselves. I close my eyes and her hands feel like my mother’s–distant, familiar, chilled. I scribble illegible poetry, hoping she can’t read my half-cursive.
“my touch is kerosene,
everyone I’ve known up in flames I ignited.“
Her fingers cease and I can tell she’s reading.
Sweetheart, I– She has swallowed the world thrice, but knows no nouns to whisper now.
I don’t know. You know I don’t know. I don’t need her nouns, not now.
She softens silence with the melody of Jack Van Cleaf’s ‘Northern Lights’, humming with delicate patience. I turn the page and begin writing anew.
“I grapple the autumn air as the days slip through my fingers.
muscles growing warm and bones aching,”
Writing about me, now, huh? Her laugh harmonizes with the morning light, softly warming my skin. She begins braiding again and traces letters onto my neck, spelling stanzas. My hair rises with her cool breath and I write her words onto the paper–my subconscious, driving.
The two lines turn to twenty and fly into each other, into rhythm, never rhyme. I struggle to credit myself for these words–they came from her lips. She uses my hand as hers and writes until limp, filling pages uncounted.
Breathe, she whispers. Look.
I turn back, ripping out all six pages and decorate my desk in front of us. They lay like like a mosaic–stagnant visuals, a kind of organized chaos on fake wood.
It’s almost incoherent. I don’t know how to think well-arranged. I laugh.
She lifts and floats the papers into place, crosshatching them into one another until six separate ramblings become one.
I’m not sure that you have to.