To somebody that I used to love

Dear A,
How are you? 
I know you're not doing well,
and neither can I.
You turned twenty two months ago, and it's summer break now—
Youth and time: the perfect combination, right?

But I know you resent your twentieth birthday
with the same seething passion you could never love me with.
I know you resent it because after that day,
you stabbed your soul so hard 
that its shriek shook the heart you'd strung up on a torture rack,
and your soul hasn't sung since;
Not like it used to do,
not like it was supposed to do 
with the vodka-spiked tea of youth running through your veins
I can see it's mute;
your blank slate empty of creation 
littered with your torn-up hair instead.

To tell you the truth, A, 
I've been devoid of creation too.
I can no longer seem to create pretty things
so I've turned into a vulture for them:
I scavenge for beauty now,
Blacking out words in old newspapers
to dig up poetry in that manner you hated
Hunting for bits of paper and shiny little things
to assemble in my scrapbooking journal
in that 'aesthetic instagrammy' manner you so despise
And I find that discarded beauty in my broken house 
so that I'm arms deep in its cracks, 
fingers fumbling for fulfilment
Even so, I am glad;
at least I'm not scavenging for sadness 
like you used to do.

Do you still make your 5s like squiggly S's, A?
Because you rented room 505 for a lifetime
in the hope that someone would read it as SOS,
And your yearning is a poor veil 
for the love you could never afford yourself
so you look for others to spare some for you—
Perhaps that is why you chose to break yourself
so you could kintsugi yourself back in place,
Be better, stronger, more beautiful, more artistic 
but still not something that hunger could be satiated with.

The other day I heard you load the gun of adulthood 
to shoot your dreams in the head
And sharpen your paper knife 
to cut lines in their fat greasy thighs.
I know because I found the bullet holes still sizzling
the bloodless cuts (you could never cut that deep)
still unhealed on the body in your backyard—
Now a body,
because you could only create on the fumes of despair
for so long before the fuel ran out.
Didn't I tell you, A, 
your suffering had no meaning in the first place?

You thought you were a sinkable ship
but it turns out you're doomed to float forever.

Let me help you float undoomed.

Because I may not love you now
but I want to, by god I want to love you.
So let me rip the band-aids off healed wounds
and gently peel the bandages off pits of blood to check on their state
Because I see you, because I am you, because I perch in your stabbed soul
and I may not be the hope Dickinson told of so fondly
but I certainly have feathers, although small,
I do have the spark that could light your way to get that heart off that black rack—
A will-o-the-wisp, if you will—
I'll teach you to arrange the pieces you thought you'd lost along the way
in that scrapbook manner I like,
and it will all make sense.

The Secret Garden

(About 1000 words)

“You sure you’ll be okay, honey?”

Danny looked up from his copy of The Secret Garden. Again. He smiled and nodded. Again.

“Come on, Winnie! The market closes in an hour and a half!” His dad called from the other room.

“Coming!” She looked at her son. They’d be back in an hour or so, sure, but this was the first time they were leaving him alone. She had every right to be worried.

“There’s some leftover meatloaf in the microwave if you get hungry,” she said for the twentieth time, “and remember—”

“Don’t let in strangers, don’t go out into the backyard, and if Doormat barks, only check from the balcony. I remember, mom.”

Winnie smiled. Her little boy was growing up fast. It seemed like yesterday that she was teaching him to say his name.

Meanwhile, John came in. “Winnie, let’s go.

“I was coming, just—”

“Danny’s a big boy now.” He went in and ruffled his son’s hair. “Almost eight, am I right?”

“Yes, daddy.” He smiled.

“You be good, Dan.”

“I will.”

Danny saw them off and bolted the door. Their deep blue Chevy screeched away and finally, for the first time ever, he was alone.

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