Painting by Elizabeth Mayville | Website | Etsy Shop | Instagram
The Roughest Language
It’s your name that comes up with the blood. Half a cough, half something that’s going to kill me one day. This, I know. This, I knew when I first laid eyes on you. I knew that love would be the thing that ends me. I wanted it then, a tongue that slid like a blade.
All I noticed looking down the sink was how the pain settled. All this blood. All this I miss you settled at the bottom. Empty and the begging like mementos, laid on the bathtub. This hope staining my hands with black, rubbed off on you, on the four walls, on everything I tried to keep from coming down. Nothing saved us in the end. Not the marriage, not the children, not anything that we thought would.
They’re so young now that we can still pass me off as the uncle, as the family friend that comes round. I look my boy in the eyes and see how he’ll grow up to be just like another man. My daughter enters the room, a walking memento, a love story that breathes. She has your smile. She has your smile, baby, and that shouldn’t hurt like it does.
Nothing like the years we stuck it out, huh? Nothing like the nights we left the day feeling like heroes. I remember your hand in mine as a declaration, as the beginning of spring. Like morning, like light, I remember you like one might god.
Countless nights writing you letters. Countless nights thinking I was still a hero, that I still could save everything. Drunken stupors. Drunken “I know I’m not him. I can never be, but I try for you.” Countless “You said you’d choose me in every life.” Countless nights just trying to stay alive.
Driving down the highway with our hands out the windows, the wind on our face and laughter there. We lived good. We were good. I don’t know what happened. I don’t know which way the wind blew, but it took you from me in the night, and a cold winter began.
It clogs the drain when I open my mouth, all this blood coming out. All this giving up settled at the bottom. All this come back to me. I’ll never know why you gave up. I might not live that long. I’ll never know why you chose him, when you had a good home right here. Just know I love you when the days begin to forget me, when the grass grows tall.
You once taught me that we were put on this earth for light, so know I forgive you in the next life, and I’ll find you there. I’ll find you and I’ll choose you, like now, like always. I hope you’ll remember me as a good man, as someone with a good heart. We can open our eyes and try again. I’ll take your declaration and smile.
I hope you smile then too.