By Natalie Soloperto
When I’m quiet I can hear the sound of your bones shifting beneath my eardrum. Your nipple sits below my chin, and the crease between your neck, and your shoulder beside my inflamed lips. They burn with the feeling of insecurity in love, with words that I cannot tell you, with the desire to say: “I hope my sheets aren’t stained”, or “I know you love her more than you love me”. Still, from beneath the layer of evening, and before the sound of my roommate’s breathing will return to the room, and before you fade from this bed and untangle my thigh from between your knees, I listen to the sound of your heart beating, and it reminds me that though you are the infinite cause of a knot between my lungs, you are also human. Beat, beat, bum, bum. Beat, beat, bum, bum.
The emptiness of the space between us has a quiet sort of longing that wraps itself in a talcum-fine, wisp of held breath. Your fingertips are an alarm clock waking me from my teenaged drowsiness, while your eyes lull me back to sleep. The smell of your skin is sour, like burning papers, smog, and the bed my best friend died in. Maybe the inside of your bones is fermenting; “Do you feel alright?” I long to ask. Instead, I do not question your eyes, which gore me from their sunken sockets. I do not question your hand which cups the curve of my hip close, and pulls me in — he does not love you. Beat, beat, bum, bum.
When I am quiet, I can hear the ghosts whispering from within your torso; they’re nestled beneath your heart and above your gut. I recognize the voice of one, a strong bout of laughter, and the sound of my most unending agony. Too far above the place you draw strength, and too far below the pensive of your compassion they lay in wait, hoping to dig their ways from your belly and wind up within my ribs. Yet, some are also my ghosts, too, and when they begin to realize their whispering is echoed within my own skin instead of entering into a dialogue, you pull me from your chest — beat, beat, bum, bum — clean the cum off of yourself and illuminate the distance between our lives by checking your phone — you need to go, and I need to cry.
That’s how it always was between us, your inner mysteries would cry to me from your finger tips, and I would kiss them softly, rest my hand on the space between your jagged cheekbone and rigid jawline and hope you knew that when I would slowly drag my thumb across your freckled skin, it was me telling you — do not tell him you’re in love with him. Beat, beat, bum, bum — it was me telling you that there were other men before you, who did not leave holes in my life, though they tried their best. I whispered through my entirely fractured, yet unbroken heart that I both loved you, all of you in your whole self, and that I kissed another man last night. I kissed another man last night. He and I were standing in a bar, and the feeling of his stubble was uncomfortable against my skin, and I could feel my bottom lip searching for your name on his tongue, or for my name on your tongue, or for a million and one scenarios to make an earnest believer out of me who will listen when your ghosts tell me that somewhere in a locked chamber of your heart, maybe you — this is just sex, and he does not love you. Beat, Beat. Bum, bum.