|—||"Notes on a Candy Cane Tree," Gregory Sherl (via commovente)|
I guess you could say I was confused
when you said you didn’t love me
Because you always told me that when you kissed my lips
you could taste the next 70 years of your life.
Because when we made love we did it with smiles on our faces
and love in our hearts;
and when you scratched my back
you etched your future into every muscle and every tendon
making me feel as if I was some sort
of a permanent calendar
(But calendars can only last a year).
Because you said eternity had never tasted so sweet
as you drew it from my breath
and kissed the sunshine that leaked from my skin.
Because I promised you that I would never need
rain-soaked nights in Paris,
or money or a house on some far away island
because your heart was the only home
I could ever need.
And because you always said you would treat me like
one of your tragic stars
with their pagan hearts full of morning
and how you would always look up at me in wonder
“What a fall, but what a light.
What impossible light.”
In the fall of 1973 I was studying as a freshman at NYU, and after failing to make my initial train home to Maine, I was rushing through Grand Central on the evening before Thanksgiving 1973 when I spotted you, emerging from one of the railways, with a look of utter confusion on your face. You had the blondest hair I had ever seen, and a plaid dress. I had never seen a plaid dress before.
I was, in those days, terribly shy, and if I am honest with myself, I’ve never shook that stubborn sense of timidity or loneliness in crowds. To this day, trying to explain the uncharacteristic courageousness that seized me in that moment, and inspired me to walk up to you and say “are you lost?” is almost completely beyond me.
You were studying at Olberlin, and on your way to spend Thanksgiving with your aunt in Jersey City. After explaining to you where you could get a bus, I asked, in spite of knowing it would mean sacrificing my last chance to spend the holiday with my family (and likely infuriate my over-protective mother), if you wanted to get a drink and you said yes.
We walked out into a rainy Manhattan street and ducked into the first (cheap) bar we saw, where I ordered us two bottles of beer. Now in my 50’s, when with any luck a man might finally begin to acquire that elusive thing called wisdom, I know that there is nothing more exciting yet rare in life than making a true connection with someone. I have always been too sentimental for my own good, but in all honesty, I have never felt more at ease with anyone than I did laughing and talking to you that dimly lit midtown bar.
When I confessed that I purposefully missed my train to keep talking to you, you smiled slyly and said “well I guess it’s only fair that I miss my bus.” With no money for a cab, we walked to my Lower East Side dorm room, which was deserted aside from my German classmate Franklin, who kindly gave us a half-finished bottle of red wine.
We made love that night, and in the morning coached one another through shaky phone calls to our angry relatives back home. With the November cold turning the night’s rain into a dreary wintery mix, we stayed in bed all day, sipping coffee and smoking cigarettes, discussing politics and philosophy. You told me you had never felt “so New York before.”
That evening, you took a bus to Jersey City. A few weeks later I received a letter from California. You sent no return address, and I never saw you again.
I have been married twice since then - once divorced, and once widowed. I have had a successful career as an English professor, and am a proud father. My life has known its share of triumphs and heartaches, of love and loss. Against my better judgement, I haven’t forgotten that day - and, at least once a year, while mowing the lawn, or reading a newspaper, the details come back to me.
Perhaps, if life’s strange circumstances can permit it, we can have a second drink.
Women have mouths the shapes of loaded guns.
When they speak, they pull the trigger. Slut. They won’t sit down
or shut up for you; they will howl so loud every tooth rattles
like rusted wire hangers in the back of a closet
that you assume they’ll use to perform an abortion
after you rip…
But I still can’t kiss my own neck.