Last Place Olympian

Sinking, sinking, sinking, crash

Where is that noble buoyancy

That dad told me all of us humans have when we’re swimming

Because it’s part of biology?

It’s cold down here

Icy and dark where I can’t

See a damn thing

And even though I’d like to

I can’t get past the amount of time I spent

Swimming, swimming, swimming

Learning all the strokes and paddles to

Get to where I am now.

Maybe resilience doesn’t come from

A natural, internal floating mechanism

But from telling yourself that

YES – swimming is fun! Swimming is easy!

I can swim through Jell-O if I tried.

And while I write in metaphor

The tragic irony of this seasonal sadness happens to

Lie in the fact that

I cannot swim at all.

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Last Place Olympian

Love’s Lethargy

Her long, slender legs were cocked up over the back of the sofa, her body slumped into a deep pit in the cushion. Her rear was the point of pressure, funneling her 100 lbs into that one tiny spot on the sofa. She lazily held a tragic romance novel open in one hand, and bent forward to brush her shin with the other. Ugh, how stubbly, she thought. Yet another thing to take care of. She decided that the shower and shave could wait until tomorrow. She had yet to put away days of laundry; yet to prepare her lunch for tomorrow; yet to feed the dog… and she was as engrossed in a tragic romance novel as a hardened New Yorker could possibly get, occasionally feeling sorry for the star-crossed lovers, but more frequently finding herself rolling her eyes, slapping the pages, and shouting, “Oh, get it together!” She was determined to finish everything she started, however, even if it compromised the tedious preparation of tomorrow’s lunch. I can just nuke a veggie patty, she resolved, and sank back into the tragedy. Something about navigating the choppy waters of literature served as gentle distraction from the dull goings-on of her daily life without her love. Not that he was absent from her life – he was simply away for days at a time, and the two would count down the milliseconds until an upcoming, much overdue embrace.

Her eyes would intermittently swim on the tragic lines of this borderline-boring tale of heart-wrenching grief. Instead of thinking on her extensive to-do list, she thought about how much better her own love affair was. She wasn’t wholly the bragging type; a New Yorker, yes, but she never idolized her own lifestyle. But this novel was meant to emulate the tragic realness of derailed and diminished love… so she would retreat away from these silly, invented characters and into her own memory bank. Who lives like them? She would reflect on the fantasies come to life with her lover – how could reality be so much more riveting and peaceful than FICTION?

She imagined his face the last time they convened, his eyes resting for a second on various parts of her face and body, his chest heaving with anxious exhilaration, and his smile – an ear-to-ear, face brightening smile, into which she fell spiraling into a canyon of hopeless adoration – his smile curling with each blink of his darting eyes. He asked her, “Is your eyeshadow gold today?” and brushed a hair behind her ear before gently lying kisses across her forehead. She chuckled to herself, remembering her bliss and blushing state of flattery – and her awkward, girlish response: “Are you a makeup guru?” Luckily for her, she recalled his lovestruck giggle and reply: “No, I just pay attention to all of your details.”

She did, too. She memorized every mutable tuft of hair that sprang rebelliously from his curly head; the boyish freckles spattered across his nose and cheekbones; the sharp geometry created by his handsome jaw; the neat alignment of his pretty teeth; residual glitter on his neck, the result of hours of nestling in his arms… oh, was she in love with him. She memorized his pitch variations during important explanations and appreciated every bit of his knowledge he’d shared with her, doing her a greater intellectual service than he could ever appreciate. His forceful, but alluring, touch – she could feel it along her waist to her hips; she replayed the times when she felt consumed by his masculinity, praying that he never stop caressing her. His compassionate nature and his laughably polite mannerisms to everyone he met; his ultimate prioritization of her wellbeing over his own. She closed the miserable novel and held it tightly to her chest, imagining her love story strewn across the pages instead. She held it as if it were him, and missed him.

Unmotivated to continue reading about such sad and unfortunate types, she gathered herself and sat down to relish in the fact that her happiness was around the corner. One day, they would save water by showering together as a nightly ritual; they’d fold laundry in unison while making fun of everyone in the Laundromat until she wanted to seal her nostrils from the stale, chemical stench of the establishment; they’d prepare complicated lunches together in fancy tupperware containers; and their dog would be the happiest and best-fed puppy in the city. She LOVED her future, and it had barely begun to unfold! With him, she felt weightless, invincible, powerful, and alight with promising ambition… Thank goodness for him, she thought over and over. Thank goodness for his contribution to me becoming Adult Me, with dreams and professional goals and compassion and understanding and forgiveness. Thank goodness it’s him that is my reality. People should read about US, she thought.

Dazzled, she toss the book aside and lay and missed him some more, and waited for the weekend.

Love’s Lethargy

Strands

At the sight of a small, dark strand of

Curly hair 

In my shower

On my soap

—I felt sheer joy.

I even laughed at how moved I was

By something that would elicit 

Nothing but total repulsion

From anyone else.

I was so thrilled to see that tiny 

Hair on my soap

Because it reminded me that 

You were here so recently.

Grinning from ear to ear

—A remnant of you!

With difficulty I let it wash away,

Because, in time

You will use my shower again.

Some days,

Those lonely reminders motivate me the most.

Strands

Mortality

A pain somewhere between my ribs

Manifests

As I begin to realize that I am not alone

In mortality.

But the flesh dressing your

Beautiful, beautiful bones

Will one day also cease to grant your life its motion.

And I feel sickened —

Deep within, to contemplate the state of Earth

Without you on it.

Shallow breath tries to fill my lungs

As I imagine your soft skin in its clothes,

Out of its clothes,

Pressed against my body,

Being held and holding.

Your lips.

Oh, your lips! 

And I love your skeleton just as much as every other part

You claim as your own.

But bones alone will never be 

Enough for me.

What of us?

You, me — the totality of our flesh and bones,

All of our passion,

And every last kiss.

What then, my love?

And my greatest anxiety thus takes form —

Where will we be when neither exists?

Will I still remember?

Mortality