How to retroactively know that going to an Andrea Gibson performance with your ex was a really bad idea

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 17:28 -- Anna M

When you are sitting in a theater

and there’s a crick in your neck shooting

fire and your stomach

is tying itself into nice,

pretty, gut wrenching bows

and the performer on stage

is literally chopping your heart

into fucking bite sized pieces

and the most agonizing thing

is the seam in your arm

where he keeps brushing against you, ripping

it open stitch by stitch, ripping

you open stitch by stitch.


When music is quietly dancing and your eyes lapse

in resistance once again and you look over

to see his spider web fingers drumming gently

on a blue skinny jeaned knee

as though he were coaxing

the song from an imaginary piano

and you think you must have left your larynx

in his knee because how else could you feel

each tap so deeply like a blossoming bruise

reminding you everything

you only just barely got to know.


When you hug goodbye and you

inadvertently inhale some part

of him and you want to cling

to the slats of his ribcage because he is already

letting go and you struggle to recall

what it was like when he held you closer,

whispered into your neck, when you embraced

long enough that you could feel his heart

beat through his stiff white shirt

and had to resist saying

you hoped it bled

him into you


When you get home to your stomach

still swallowing itself and you collapse

to the floor—knee, hip bone, forehead—

and you think you should eat something

but all you want to eat is his breath,

freely given to your lips.


When a shower won’t wash

him off. When the thought of sleep

chills even your bone marrow

because what if you dream

about him. When you wake up

the next morning disappointed

because you didn’t dream

about him.


You keep moving.

You tell yourself you don’t want

to be the girl safety pinning herself

in places she’s not wanted. You tell yourself

jokes about destiny and holding hands

in the dark, park benches and spiders,

slow dancing to a rap song with the lights on-

none of it means anything. You tell yourself

he didn’t mean to give you the stars-

he really was about to throw them away.

You wonder if you had only stopped him quickly enough…


But there are a lot of ways things could have ended

better than this and you have to admit

that life has a habit of endings, endings

that any self-respecting English teacher

would mark down, perhaps with a comment,
“Leaves something to be desired.”


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