it was your birthday yesterday and you spent the weekend hiding in your car and texting me that you would be late.
we looked at the sky and were surprised to see a long rectangular plane flying slow behind a helicopter. the guy with the big teeth next to us said we’re watching history. cell phones out as pedestrians fought for their sliver of the thing that had not yet happened. if that is what a history makes, then i
well, i, guess i’m stuck. because of course this, us, has happened before, and most likely it will happen again, but when it is happening
when i’m lying next to you on a cliff overlooking the pacific ocean as it crashes turquoise and sea foam onto molten rock, when the wind is so fierce that my eyelids are stained two days later with sand, when the fleece of your grey sweatshirt is the only thing that my skin can remember itself in—
strung out, i once wrote, in the notepad of my cellphone, probably as i wandered dazedly between afternoon doings, between the moments of you. the drug metaphor is tired, but so am i. tired of this constant swing. of how i feel right now as i unspool.
last night we ate lemon cake and potatoes and i asked the waitress to sing you happy birthday but she couldn’t find any candles. you wanted the salad with the blue cheese dressing because you were craving blue cheese and i wanted anything you wanted. we peed behind your dad’s parked minivan, stars like leeches in the sky beaming alien, and the whole ride home was one big swerve. i held my hand between your knees while you accelerated up that last lonesome hill, we were staying at your grandparent’s cabin, and everywhere i looked was woods or water. it was bedtime, but we sat in the kitchen and drank a beer while i read you quotes from my favorite book that you had just bought for yourself. it was past bedtime and we both turned our sides of the heated blanket as hot as it got, cream pink cloth, and you curled into my belly while i read an essay about bisexuality. your little purple face was asleep & i wish for anything that that moment could have held still, that i could still be in it, that right now i wasn’t at my desk, you weren’t at work, the clock wasn’t still turning, evening wasn’t looming, and we could just push our hands out and force it to last itself out, and be there, eternity. of course hell is the looping, the moment where time lapses in on itself— but I’ve always had an affinity for the underground, i think, and that moment of becoming the essay about to end, you about to fall asleep, my stomach about to exhale doesn’t feel like it could ever feel too old.
you ask me why i’m so tired & i say it’s because i don’t have the stomach to drink coffee at four thirty in the afternoon like you do. light falls around us, so do little bits of hay that the birds have been collecting. i’m lying on you and i’m lying to you: tired because of how heavily the future presses onto any possibility of a present. when did the moon have time to round itself out again, and how are we still here, weeks later & still so unaware of what’s to come.
i’m leaving you said to me, on a morning i will never remember. my body was covered in a rash and i was high on Benadryl, thick tears coming in tirades because my cheeks were so inflamed. three days later, when you texted me saying that you couldn’t imagine leaving me, it didn’t sting as it should have. i felt light that day, all day. and perhaps this is largely what i’m tired of: still feeling better when you make gestures of wanting me. i’m tired of letting myself wrap around you, of feeling like the slug that doesn’t stop humming, of delineating time & place each morning as i push myself out of bed. i’m tired of wanting you so badly and having you want me so badly in return. i’m tired of wanting. period. i’m tired of being tired. i’m tired of the sickly teal color of my sheets and the yellow way my dresser brightens in the morning light. i’m tired of having to shut out the street lamps at night because my shades are broken. i’m tired of waiting for you to text me back, of your lips suckling mine, of the pet names you freckle all over me. your love is the most exciting thing i’ve been wrapped in in my entire life and i’m tired of being so happy when I see you.
the most responsible thing i can do you say is tell you that i can’t be responsible right now. the hike is long, the wildflowers are abundant. wind blows deep and quick against my gut and we’re stuck together forever, it seems. it’s your birthday and my mind races with all the reasons why i need to dig myself out of you. we walk in silence for miles even though you prod at me, in jokes. and the most I can do is pull you to the floor with me and lie curled up behind the nettles. how can I tell you what i’m thinking when it all exists as a warped humidity. when there’s nothing i can do to change you leaving. love, or whatever it is we call addiction these days, feels more and more like a penis with a knife on its edge. do you mean to gut me as you thrust?
i bleed all over you when i’m menstruating, a rough maroon wash all up and down your stomach and arms. a concoction of probiotics and uterine lining, and then i scrub it off you and we curl into sleep.
i’m tired of doing all the lifting. i’m tired of you getting to be the one who hides & of being the one who has to come find you. who walks you through the hard conversations and orders you the lemon cake. when i’m not around, i know you don’t eat. i know you lie in bed and stalk people on the internet. it’s not as though your life is so glamorous without me and i’m feeling bad because you don’t love me enough. it’s that i can’t fix things for you. kissing you brings the meaning back you once said, midnight, in a cave off the north shore of San Francisco, overlooking the ocean as it wrangled. but when i’m gone, so are you. everything a spinning, a downward. it was your brother’s birthday and you didn’t call until eleven. somehow all the cheese went missing from the cheese drawer. your bed a pile of your parents blankets— each day starting and ending with a family argument. i know that if you could care for me, you would. i know that. i’m tired of knowing that. light falls around us when I look at your face, your lips shine, each freckle a species, we are aliens beaming in incandescence and i want you, forever, little frog lips i never say. oh, the pain of wanting something that is not yet fully formed. you are black hole, sometimes, and i frighten at the touch.
Han(nah) Rubin lives in Oakland, CA with a silver bicycle and too many candles. They are the author of Without Seeing a Finished House (Common Objects Press), and their work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Be About It, Full of Crow, MASK Magazine, HOLD: A Journal and other places.