By Natalie Soloperto
one: “i love you”
when I first imagined myself receiving these words, I parted
like red seas between the life I had
before someone loved me and the life that
became of me after, I thought they would be accompanied by the nerves of a boy
that knocked on my doorstep fifteen minutes early, with slightly wilted flowers
because he left them in the front seat of his mom’s minivan that summer morning.
he’d be eager, and early,
and undeveloped like my fourteen year old body
inside of me I would be made up of elation, slowly, slowly, and then all at
once i’d fall in love with him. when i really got these words for the first time,
they were cheaply bought consolations and tasted unripe, sour raspberries
in the spring time with fuscha skin, and soft ruffles, he handed them to me
that summer, held them in his mouth
but they were still sour against his tongue.
two: “your breasts are beautiful” I imagined these words were whispered
in the back seat limbo of my parents’ cars as we hastily covered
ourselves in each other, in teenage fire, teenage purgatory,
teenage limbs that hadn’t figured out how smooth
they would become with more practice, but they came accompanied by
emojis, googley eyes. The text would continue against
the soft skin of my chest and rest in valley between my left and right breast
“let me see them”.
three: “You are the most beautiful girl that I have ever seen” I
would smile dully if I saw this now, I am only beautiful
until she walks by again, is he asking me to bend down,
trying to bend me over like the curvature of my broken spine,
or trying to take me behind the tree outback and make me promises
to write at the base, in its hardened bark. I know the sound of lies when
I hear them, the summer raspberries in the palms of my hands may
be sweeter but they are still too soft to stand against the force
of a man’s colonial fingers. he is firm beneath his waistband, but I am
firm beneath my ribcage.
four: “i want to be inside of you” he would whisper into his phone,
texts like these pass through me, they are brief moments of
highway-honeysuckle sweetness with his honey coated mouth suckling at my breast. i
would remember what it felt like to pause at the edge of the interstate,
with the last exit up ahead and cry about the baby’s breath flowers in the roses
that i’d never gotten. instead, every summer after that
it’s just been a neck covered in bouquets of broken blood vessels and
boys who paint themselves like men and knock at the door of my womb.
five: “i’m not sure i was ever in love with you”. summer sighed on my
doorstep and to this day i’m not sure which exit i stopped in front of on the
drive home to cry until the police pulled over behind me,
or why it is that he evaporated into the humidity,
why i laid myself down beneath him all first time Odessys and Illiads of
midsummer night’s dreams, the circle would only be complete when
I laid on a green couch, beneath a boy who whispered how beautiful I was
and dropped out of my life like the falling sun at the edge of a horizon.
six: “i’m going to fuck you when i get home” i know now that when i’m awake
at four a.m nothing good will come of it,
he expects to lace sugar into texts, and watch as my lips part
red seas of before and after-tastes,
and he expects to not look me in the eyes while his ghost of a body
has sex with mine, he leaves the fiction of himself
for me to wake up to on our wet bedsheets, and
climbs back into bed with me dripping
of alcohol and and some other woman’s perfume.
four a.m is the hour where a man’s eyes are supposed to
open with emotional vulnerability, but i know that
as i kiss his forehead and he lays next to me
that this text will be the most honest thing he presses send to,
he just want to have sex, it doesn’t matter if it’s with me.
seven: Why do we do this to ourselves? I would ask him if I
mustered up the courage, unbound by how badly I wanted to feel
his skin again, instead of the distance we put between us against my
resting head, or wound tightly in the arms he begs me to fit inside of
when we’re alone, and the sheets sing us dry songs to accompany
the rising east. Why does three a.m find us eyeing each other over drinks,
stealing kisses in dampened club corridors, and three p.m find us telling
our friends that this doesn’t matter. Don’t turn the lights off yet,
there is still to much to be seen when the sun comes,
up against the back of my neck like his lips when we dance.
And when I wake in the morning
I need only beg my shadow to remain next to him
as I crawl from his existence and make off into the
rosebuds that never come together into
bouquets to remind me of him on my kitchen table
and sewn limbs that fill up with blood and leak when they’re rubbed raw,
rubbed against each other.
this is how we make love because
it’s easily hidden, pictures of ourselves that move like still lives in the darkness,
alone, undone and undercover.
he’ll keep the lights off, and i’ll turn my mirrors,
don’t you dare look me in the eyes when it’s over and when our phones light up
in the distance between our timezoned bodies;
i’ll think of it as a lighthouse to illuminate the shores of my skin, provide a
pathway up my spine to prove to him that
this is the way we fuck:
first with ourselves and then
with each other
emotionlessly here in the origin of all things that will go
unexplained when the coffee drips start up in the morning
and he pretends to sleep long after i’ve left the bed.
he won’t open his eyes when i leave so i remain a ghost,
opaque and drifting between the hours where he
and i are dead to each other, and when we come alive.
he doesn’t wake when the eastern light
comes through the window because
this is the way we fuck, with patches of inked over
light that make up the dirty derivatives of our emotional unavailability.
so instead we lay under each other crushed and broken, corpses of what we could be
to one another if the light in the morning weren’t so bright and the other person
weren’t so willing to dance along.