Thinking in terms even a geologist would understand

I worry the thought
like a smooth stone
passed from palm to palm:
in the darkest point of night,
in the deepest part of my mind,
I always choose you.

I knew it then 
and know it now,
how wrong a choice it is,
but still you persist
in a way you never actually did.

I worry the thought
like a smooth stone
passed from palm to palm:
I might only have been good enough 
for someone like you,
someone that I talked myself into. 

In the dead of night,
my subconscious wraps around you,
and I hope,
one of these days
when I wake,
it will have smothered you instead.


-L.R.Y.
(originally written 11/3/20)

Hindsight is twenty/twenty

{A tribute that I thought I’d lost.}

We talked about you for weeks
in a hushed and jumbled mix
of past and present tense,
and I wished for you to speak up – 
for you to tell us you weren’t deaf
and
you weren’t dead.
Instead,
you were shut up inside yourself
in a way that I have never known you,
but I am realizing day by day
all the ways
that I have never really known you. 

They gave me a pamphlet called
“Gone From My Sight”,
a matter-of-fact black-and-white 
breakdown
of each day that you had left. 
We passed it around,
made jokes about the order form in the back,
and laughed to keep from crying. 
I used it as a bookmark,
not as guidance – 
your life simply couldn’t be reduced to 
a solemn list of
all the ways your body betrayed
you in that bed. 

Watching you slip away
has left me
with an overwhelming sense of
being homesick all of the time.
I hear your voice inside my head,
and I know that once it fades,
the silence will never seem so loud. 
But for now,
this will have to be enough – 
celebrating your life
with the people who knew you best,
and loving you as fiercely
as you loved all of us,
and I can’t remember if I told you, so
thank you for helping me grow up. 

-L.R.Y.
(8/29/14)

There is no “us” in the U.S.

Our expectations
exceed our effort;
it’s been true this whole time,
but now there’s no denying it. 
We limp along
and when someone falls, 
the crowd tramples overtop,
screaming that it’s our right. 
Eight months ago,
we assured ourselves
that we were better than Italy,
better than everyone, but
KEEP AMERICA GREAT!!!
is the emptiest slogan
of the modern times,
suitable only for memes
and not suitable for children. 
We are at war with ourselves
while the world watches.
Our expectations
exceed our effort,
and the only thing we do together now
is fail each other. 

-L.R.Y.

Kerosene lamp

We drove for hours to get there,
to get to the middle of nowhere,
with no driveway
and no electricity,
but when we made love by lamplight,
you held on like all you needed was me. 
Later,
much later,
you froze me out,
and all I could think about
was that I should have burned us to the ground
by the lit fuse of
your kerosene lamp.

-L.R.Y.

Misunderstanding

Our last moments together
feel like a tragic misunderstanding now;
I thought that you were high
as you wiped sleep from your eyes,
so I turned around and walked out.
It wasn’t the last time I saw you,
just the last time I saw you alive,
and I wish that I had tried
to see you,
simply you,
underneath it all.
Instead,
what I remember most
is finally getting that call,
dropping the phone
and driving for miles,
but not fast enough.
It was never enough –
not enough time,
not enough strength,
not enough love.
I have enough regrets
to last a lifetime,
but none of them are a lifeline
that will ever bring you back.

Six feet apart

We control what we can right now:
bandanas on our faces,
even if we can’t breathe;
winter gloves on our hands,
even if it’s seventy degrees outside
(because who can find latex ones anymore);
mindful distancing between ourselves and
people we don’t know,
and sometimes even people we do know.
But
it still feels like
too little, too late.
It still feels so far out of our control:
the people who won’t cover their faces
even though it’s now a law;
those with free fingers,
touching every available surface in sight;
limits on the amount of food we can bring home
even though we’re supposed to stay home
as much as possible.
We try to remember
to wash our hands all day long
until they are raw.
We try to remember
not to touch
our nose
our mouth
our eyes,
even if it kills us –
because it actually might kill us.
We try to remember
that this can’t last forever.
Until it’s over,
we just wash our hands again
so they are clean
while we wrestle for control,
six feet apart. 

-L.R.Y.
(based on the writing prompt of “control”)

Trial run

Selective quarantine and
three crazy dogs;
no one has been eaten yet,
and we are keeping the peace.
I mean,
it’s only been two days
and we have to last two weeks,
at least,
but I told you
we couldn’t get married
until we lived under one roof,
so I guess
this is a good first step,
especially since you brought me
breakfast in bed. 

-L.R.Y.
(3/24/20)

Marshaflower

You are
my earliest memory,
the piece of the puzzle
that changed me in an instant.
I made up names for you
before you were born,
and told you stories
from the vast imagination of a 2-year-old.
Later,
I created games
where you were a martian in a skirt
or a pretty pretty princess,
and for a while
I could bribe you
by claiming you were my best friend.
It wasn’t until years later
that I realized
it was the truest thing I’ve ever said.

-L.R.Y. (2/2/20)

“You jump, I jump”

Some things are tangible,
quantifiable:
the miles between us,
the number of texts,
the hours until I see you next.
The important things,
those are harder to describe
in amounts we can touch,
like the fact that sometimes
I feel like I already love you too much.
I tried to keep it contained
by saying “two weeks”,
but there was no point to it;
we both already knew it.
I had told myself that next time,
I would stall the fall,
but you’re not the next time I expected.
You are
softer,
kinder,
easier to trust,
and I think maybe that must
count for so much more
than all the times before.
I focus
on the beginning now,
and hope that somehow
we’ll never make it to an end. 

-L.R.Y.