I need you in the abstract.

I write to be understood. Hear me. See me. Need me.

“Who do you think you are? I asked. The hero of your own existence? You shrank into yourself. You pulled your head in like a little turtle. Tell me, I said, I’d really like to know. What is it like to be you? Two nights before your mother died I sat down to write her a letter. Me, who hates writing letters, who would rather pick up the phone to say my piece. A letter lacks volume, and I am a man who relies on volume to make myself understood.”

I am a woman who relies on words to be understood. I rely on particularities. I am particular. And I want to be particular with you.

“…I refused, and soon afterward brought things to an end and returned alone to my life. And what of it, Your honor? What of my life? You see, I thought—One has to make a sacrifice. I chose the freedom of long unscheduled afternoons in which nothing happens but the slightest shift in mood as captured in a semicolon…What I’m trying to say is that it seems to me you can’t have it both ways. So I made a sacrifice, and let go.”

I made a sacrifice, and let go. But to my riddles, to the silence cradling my words. I’m a liar who lies. I cannot control the truth. But I made a sacrifice, and let go. I forced up words when there were no words to be had. I sat in my corner and cried about the lack of air the days had supplied while you had been locked inside your own self. Through my slow suffocation, I admitted truths and vulnerability and sadness.

“One of us had loved the other more perfectly, had watched the other more closely, and one of us listened and the other hadn’t, and one of us held on to the ambition of the one idea far longer than was reasonable, whereas the other, passing a garbage can one night, had casually thrown it away.”

I throw things away when I am overwhelmed. I cannot pride myself on my ability to invest or commit. I have yet to develop that bravery. And when I speak it out loud, I’m ashamed that I need you to hear me. See me. I need you to see me. Understand when the thoughts migrate off of the page unable to form words. Understand when my breath catches for days, folds up into my stomach and heart, making each organ heavy and sick. Understand when I’ve sunk into a hole. A hole lined with fear, sleeplessness, irritation. A hole where words will never find their place. A hole where reason has been halted and an incessant pounding takes over, right above my ears. Agitation and loneliness force ink to run out, and all I can do is wait for the sun to come back. I’ll need you, not to pull me out of the paragraph-less hole, but to send me apples and pillows.

“And as we spoke a picture of myself emerged and developed, reacting to S’s hurt like a Polaroid reacting to heat, a picture of myself to hang on the wall next to the one I’d already been living with for months—the one of someone who made use of the pain of others for her own ends, who, while others suffered, starved, and were tormented, hid herself safely away and prided herself on her special perceptiveness and sensitivity to the symmetry buried below things.”

I get lost in the symmetry buried below myself. Because sometimes I am selfish. When I scrunch my eyes, stretch my neck, throw my arms overhead, and hope the slight movements will relieve the neverending tension. Rubbing the bridge of my nose in case inspiration is hiding up there. I need you in the abstract. As a whisper. A reminder of connection. To understand me without words. Because sometimes words won’t be there. Sometimes words will be barricaded just outside of my fingertips’s reach. And I’ll need you, shamelessly, to see me through silence. To hear me even when sentences can’t be formed.

—————-

:: Quotations found in Great House by Nicole Krauss ::

Unread But Open (Letter)

June 9th.

This morning, I missed you while I made an egg. I thought of pancakes or waffles and remembered that we never made that decision. I missed you while I concealed the parts of my face I wished weren’t there, darkened the parts I wished were, and brushed my hair. I thought of your hair. It felt like feathers. Mine is coarser, but it still reminded me of you. When I walked out the door, I missed you. I remembered the immediate smile your face always forced onto mine. Especially when the weeks went by between seeing you. I missed you when I squished into the subway—next to business people in their sharp or wrinkled suits or even the business casual their hip firm has come to accept. Each of those business-goers stood so close to me I could see the subtle designs on their expensive shoes. And then I missed you. I thought of your ugly shoes. I tried to hate you once, and I used those shoes as fuel. I resented the 90’s manchild version as much as the dress shoes with jeans. If we’re being honest, I never cared about your shoes, though. I only cared that you were next to me and that time had frozen just for those moments. I missed you when yet another disappointment began and ended. He would never be you. When I plugged in my headphones, put my leather heels up on my makeshift footstool, and pretended to explain the intricacies of some court somewhere, I missed you. I sat in my chair and looked at this letter. A song had come on that forced my memory to that moment I gave up. It was the same moment I made myself hate your shoes because you didn’t tell me to stay. I missed you while I drank an overpriced decafsoyicedlatte and remembered your poor attempt to stay awake with watered-down coffee. It was the first night I met you. You told me your resolutions, and I wondered if you really didn’t know how to make coffee. When I left that tall building in my worn out shoes with their newly found hole in the sole, I remembered how misplaced you would seem next to those skyscrapers, honking cars, and me. But with each step I took, I missed you. I missed you as I stood on the pier. I missed you as I looked over the bay. I missed you as I heard a ship’s horn. I missed you as I tore this letter into pieces. I missed you as the dirty water set it free. I missed you as I turned and walked home.

When I let myself remember again, I will miss you when I breathe. When my heart beats and when my eyes see and nose smells and ears hear—I will miss you.

Unpoem

Failure grasps every scribble
As poetry seems unable to capture
You.

(My apologies).

Had words inscribed my affinity
My utmost obsession with your sincerity
(Or maybe with your profanity?)
The world would have breathed

For us.

The sea would have stirred for us.
The trees would have died for us.

And I would have written why
The universe understood
Its purpose
When our hearts caught—unable to let go
(That, however, seemed cliché.)

Paragraphs would have described how
My unshakeable devotion
To the very essence of you
Shook.

Not because it was less
But because it was laced with my humanity.
And imperfection.

I hear your smile in my syllables
As semantics cease explaining.

I remember your hands around my eyes.

I live only through those seconds of promised forever
When every vow that was impossibly unspoken.
(Every echoed beat)
Fabricated us.

So I wrote you this unpoem.
Manifested through hours of word spinning
Isolated phrases and rhythmic inability.
While electricity spread through my fingers
And black magic—in my veins.

I wrote you letters that spell, form, incarcerate
The (evidently) ineffable thought of you.

Juxtaposition

Her vapid look replaces fire.

Clammy hands. Stumbles. Sterile lulls.

Juxtaposing.

 –

His illicit mutter of ecstacy.

Those ican’tgetenough

Bites.

Those icouldneverexistwithoutwantingyou

Those ineedyousomuchit

Burns

Those whatifhedoesn’tseehowperfectwecouldbe

Together

Pausing.

That moment I know

to hold her.

So I do it.

To be polite. To seem sincere.

(You can’t be rude when she’s lying right there.)

Realizing.

Gut retching fear

When a dayandahalfhaspassed

since his

Last word. Last breath.

I hate

But I crave

Every moment of uncertainty.

Ache to know what he

Thinks.

And sees

in us. (Is it what you see in him?)

Is it the way pulses catch just thinking his name?

Then.

Her simplicity.

The mirror in which I glimpse

A piece of myself.

It’s in her face.

I find the unbroken memory of myself. The me

I could have been if life hadn’t drowned hope and left

it gasping for air in the front seat of a pickup truck.

Lied. Abandoned. Disregarded.

Her grace and sensible smile.

That sickly sweet touch and soft voice.

Guides that kiss goodbye.

Shutting the door.

Sinking to the floor.

Remembering the fire of believing.

The combustion of combining.

The life. The unrefined

irreverent beauty created

By the needing. The wanting.

By every ounce of his imperfection.

I can begin with begging.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a poem. I wanted it to be strong, distant, in control of itself—the attributes I also wanted for myself while I was writing it. I started by declaring that my propensity for depth and affection were selfish. That I knowingly and purposefully “drown myself in the warmth of giving away parts of myself. Even to those who don’t deserve it. Especially to those who don’t deserve it.”

Sounds nice right? Creates ownership over heartbreak and the necessary foresight to not feel foolish.

“I knew they were going to take complete advantage of my feelings. IN FACT, that’s what I was planning for!”

Okay. I even laughed as I wrote that. Because why. oh. why. Does it seem so much better to anticipate, wait for, and actually want someone not to care?

When Tessa edited it, she put a large red x through the entire introduction. “It’s throat clearing. The poem starts with ‘I beg.'”

I didn’t want to beg. I wanted to control. I wanted the world to know that I had complete power over my resulting feelings of hurt. I directed it. I decided when it began and when it stopped. It was mine.

But it wasn’t. It was my burden to bear. But it wasn’t created or given by me.

Since this poem, I’ve been mad at myself, sad with myself, learned from it, made some new mistakes, and learned from those too.

I also stopped believing that if you expect to be disregarded, unseen, and unappreciated, it will hurt less when you are.

Have a poem.

It begins with begging.

I beg
to shower you with affection.
Feel the heat radiate from your skin.

Breathe the sounds of lungs and hearts.

I’ll forgive travesties and vile
for a pair of eyes to fall into.
to devour the sentimental.

I’ll ignore the words throwing boulders at my fantasized version
of you.
As you cease to be yourself.

 I’ve purposefully forgotten
each of your unwanted edges.
Circuses will exist where boredom sat.
Adoration will replaced the callous.

And I’ll swim the pools of perfection
I’ve created.
To substitute the shallow.
Until the edges of my imagination have stretched.
Beyond its admirable potential.

I’ll treat you better.

“If you don’t leave,”
he whispered,
“I’ll treat you better.”
In fact, he promised,
He wanted to.
He said.

“I don’t know why
it’s been so hard
to like you.

Dealing with your criticisms
And incessant need
For more

Makes me hate you.
Loving you
is frustrating.

But it can’t be
impossible
to act like I care
While slamming your face

Into everything you
do wrong.

Please don’t cringe
Away
From my words.
I can love you

Through my resentment.
If I can remind
You

You’re wrong.

I’ll apologize.

I’ll treat you better.

If you deserve it more than before.”

quadrupled.

Deep breathing returns
our even spell of sanity.
But in its pause—

I appreciate
inappropriate appetizers,
backward glances,
awkward stances,
time retold,
and mistakes redone.

Stolen syllables
and feigned excuses
anticipate our alliterations
and readied followed rhymes
but while our code

is drenched in silence
and stumbled laughter
forms us dual liars,

tangled words distort believing
no one can hear
(not even the other)

excessive thumping
artery pumping
or see quadrupled fire

of hoping. of wanting
dreaming of loathing.
fashioned of craving.