The moment I met you
I wanted to build an instrument.
I wanted to learn a new language.
I wanted to replace my old camera lens.
Almost immediately, I ached with empathy
Felt for every person in every room you’ve ever walked out of
All the beds you left unmade
The final note of every song you’ve finished playing
Before I was born,
My mother’s hands were patient and strong
Always on her stomach
She held me there, like Atlas held the whole wide World.
Before I was born,
My mother wrote me letters.
Most were her daydreams and future plans
Only one was an apology in advance for all the pain I would feel
The blood I would lose,
Her worry for whatever else might escape me
Her letter did not mention my name.
My mother couldn’t have known then what my name would be
Because I hadn’t taken a breath or cried yet
Her letter did not mention your name either
Because I still hadn’t taken a breath, met you and cried yet
After I was born,
My father built our home here
Where the seasons change four times a year
And the weather will only ever compromise.
Perhaps my parents were preparing me for the feeling of you
Every time they made me return a book to the library
Look through a telescope
Or leave the bird’s nest alone
It’s a similar instinct that tells me now
If I touch you, you won’t come back
It’s every age of me
Every year of my lifetime
That struggles to love from a distance.
Not touching you when you are so close
Is like choosing silence over symphony
Or purposely sleeping in the window seat of an airplane
As it smooths over the valleys and mountains
I have only slept beside you twice,
But it felt less like sleep and much more like waiting
My mind was muttering math equations.
My spine was writing poems.
I can only sleep when it’s quiet and my eyes are closed
But I would open mine every minute or so
Just in case you were awake
Or just to be sure of you.
I am sure, as the summer has shown me
That water and music are respectively beautiful
But water muffles sound and warps wooden instruments
I am a pitcher of water
You are too full already for me to pour myself into.
I’ve seen what a flood can do to a happy village
How waves can steal castles from the shoreline
How time heals tree bark despite carved hearts and initials
I wonder if it’s obvious-
The way I’m groping the air that your shadow moves in
Attempting to trace your arms, to pin them down
Or to pick them up and keep.
You’re the shape of the doorway
That science and faith might finally share
You’re the notion of planets-
I know that they are there.
I know there are moons in the daytime
And the sun still at night
You are quiet and bright,
But you move in circles too far from my hands
I am stretching,
I am swallowing hard.
As both a poet and a person,
I believe in understatement
That some beauty is ruined when you put your mouth to it
This is why some people will never meet one another.
This is why things are lost in the fire.
This is why memory flickers in and out.
This is why I haven’t told you.