i met the strong man last night- you know, the one in circuses
who amazes everyone at how powerful he is
even though he really can’t bear anything more than the next person
(it was dark, and my eyes were green for decay, decay for old things that
don’t work anymore and
i think they turned down the volume on my memory machine
when i woke up.)
but i remember there was a lot of sadness in the room,
not all of it was mine, which
makes sense, i guess-
where is there strength but in sadness?
and he reminded me of someone
whose face i couldn’t see and whose voice i couldn’t hear anymore
but who i loved and still half taste in those seconds before sleep.
i was awake in the dark,
and i saw only with my fingertips, everything except what was solid,
and i remember i wanted to cry but instead i just let my fingers
explore the darkness,
trying to understand where the root of this sadness was,
and i couldn’t find it,
so i went away and swam in a fake ocean
where at the bottom i found something i still don’t want to think about,
something i am not going to try to remember.
i came back to tell him that
i am not a waste,
and took one look at him and did not want to cry
so i didn’t tell him
because when you are not a waste
you care far too much and crying is to easy.
i should have told him that.
he might have listened to me like no one else.
maybe i could have brought him back what i found
and he really would have cared,
and known the bitterest part wasn’t losing what i loved
but that there was a reason to love it in the first place.
he had my sister’s dress, i remember now,
the little pink one that i thought was too scratchy,
with the green turtle on it.
it wasn’t strange in my dream, i think.
i asked, why do you have her dress,
not in the tone of someone asking about something silly or surprising
but someone who’s curious about something
that’s too painful for them to understand
and now i am crying trying to not remember if there was an answer.
in the soreness, i let the inexcusable flow out,
rage at things i hadn’t understood before oozing
from my eyes and mouth and nose and ears.
you bastard, i burned,
i hate you,
you become such a waste,
i hate that you became a waste,
you were such a liar and i hate your lies
and your words
and that you asked me to let my heart waste as well.
the strong man listened to the unforgivable words come
and when i was done
he smiled and nothing has ever tasted so good
and so real and i remember i made myself smile too
even though it ripped the skin on my face open
and hurt like writing love letters on your hips with razors
and in the ripping i was able to hold onto him and borrow his strength
for one night.
i remember we both ached
and i tried to dig my fists into his muscles
hoping maybe the soreness could be shoved away
and it couldn’t
so in the end i rested my eyes on my hands and breathed.
breathing was like honey.
it wasn’t dark, i remember now.
there was no light,
but his skin glowed like my fists had been coated in sticky amber liquid,
but it was just a dream
and i woke up
with hate on my lips.
i still wonder, though,
since my fists can leak honey,
maybe there is some sweetness inside of me
if only in my sleep.