Affection

We skated

glided

on the surface of

extreme emotion

playing at passion

for the sake of

the other’s feelings

touching with

something like love

but mostly

only lust and a lark

Sure

we had some

honest affection for

one another

but that was

the farthest

the deepest

either of us

could manage

It was more like

tangy adoration

and we acted

it to the fullest

throwing ourselves

into the theater of it

winning accolades

from others

from each other

for our efforts

until that final

drift

until that final

curtain

and each of us

left marked

so exhausted

and something

like disappointment

and regret

settled over us

in the dark

Bordertown: Chapter Two

Chapter Two

     Children swim in that river — the one that slices through the two cities — or what little of it one can manage to swim in. It’s mostly just wading and splashing. The maquiladoras dump their waste nearby so that there’s a strange smell to the water, like rust and dry mold. The highway on the American side of the border runs along the length of the Rio for a time. And as the cars travel from one side of the city to the other there’s that view of the opposite side — the expanse of that sister city dwarfing that which lies to the North in population and sprawl. The children pay no mind to the buzz of traffic as they twist and leap through the spray and foam.

     And everyone panics in this desert country when water falls from the sky. Cars swerve to the shoulder of the highway at the first contact of raindrops on windshields. The streets flood quickly, not designed to withstand what amounts to a drizzle where I had grown up, in the inmost part of the Midwest. Droves of hysterical people rush home to close the windows they always leave open.

     There had been a time when his hands on my body had made me do things I could never have imagined prior — arching up or down into his form, fingers searching to draw him into and nearly through me. As loud as two people could be, so that neighbors left passive aggressive notes tucked into our mailbox among the bills and credit card applications.

     Then we moved, and it became a different animal altogether — once the fighting quickly began, the bruises and nail marks we left on each other after every verbal confrontation, when we had fallen on each other there on the floor of the kitchen out of pure carnal need, were no longer badges of honor, reminders of passion that we would touch and smile gently about later on. I would finger a days’ old pock on a knee or my lower back and wince at the memory, recall the disappointed wave that had overwhelmed my form as we had separated — each crawling away like wounded beasts to our far corners of the house.

     He wanted children by that point, felt that it was the next step, thought it’d settle us. Keep us grounded in the life we had chosen. I took my birth control pill every morning, standing at the kitchen sink while he sat at the nearby table, not looking up but still watching over the top of the newspaper he held open. Sure, I could do that in the bathroom, but I guess I wanted to make a show of it, wanted him to be certain of my intention every morning before we separated for work for the day. I could always see the dark twist of his brow and nearly hear the words he so wanted to say in that second before I swallowed. In that moment, I forgot anything other than resentment for his unspoken desire, and my inability to verbalize my own waxing desperation.

     We’d had that conversation, about children, a long time ago, when I had still wanted so badly to be in love that I would say anything to make someone love me back. He had been open about his aim to eventually have kids, clear about his desire to be the breadwinner of the family once they arrived. And I had been quiet about the gnawing feeling that I’d never be the person for that kind of life, had hoped it was something I’d  just grow out of at some point.

     But I still hadn’t. And his impatience with me was a simmering wall coming off him like heat off the desert floor. We lived in this mess, somehow. We lived for it. We fought nearly every night, but never about that. We fought around it, feinting at the topic but never opening it up fully. Somewhere inside of me was the stark realization that this was not anything I had ever wanted for myself.

          And soon it grew to be August — when clouds piled up on the horizon, surrounding the city, perched on the lip of the mountains, hemming in the oppressive heat. But these clouds did not descend into the valley right away, where we all watched with a mixture of anticipation, dread, and relief.

     “It’s gonna rain today.”

      He had said that every morning since the clouds had arrived. It’d been nearly a week. And he’d been wrong each time. It was Sunday again by then. I was still sweating from that last sprint at the end of my run and stood at the window eyeing the towering thunderheads.

     “You should take the jeep to your mother’s house, in case it does.”

     And when he came to me there at the sink and took the pill from between my fingers, I was frozen in a sudden state of confusion. He had time to toss it down the drain before I could manage action or words. So I didn’t manage either. Then he was touching me, the way he used to, the way I remembered but had forgotten for that spell since the fighting had begun, since we had moved to this place. 

     It was something to see, I’m sure. The way he guided me to the bedroom with a gentle hand in my own. The manner in which we laid ourselves on the bed and entwined our forms there among the sheets. The method with which we moved together, something we had not truly done in a long while.

     Thunder was wandering about in the sky as he drew off my sweat-soaked clothes and then his own. Rain began to hit the roof, quickening as did our breaths, building to a fevered rhythm.

     “What does this mean?” I asked, relenting so easily to his hands.

     “It means everything,” he whispered.

Calamity

To lay it all bare

what once appeared

so complicated

but was

in actuality

quite simple

I loved you

adored you

venerated you

mythologized you

beyond anything

you could have

possibly achieved

anything anyone

could possibly

achieve

so that you

shined on

a plain of existence

no human being

had ever

could ever

have scaled

and you became

everything to me

so that I grew

in turn

somehow

far less in nature

less than worthy

of your reticent

warmed over

affection

and this

state of affairs

became fact

for both of us

something

we both believed

so strongly

so vehemently

until the end

and perhaps

long after

living in echoes

of that which

had seemed complex

but became merely

a slow-witted

failure of manners

a simple disaster

Recognition

It’s not as if I didn’t try

near the end

you would say things

over and over again

feigning at patience and care

but somewhere inside

I could feel the

lack of true emotion there

and I forgot to really listen

because I have always

been bad with recall

and you would grow frustrated

with my quizzical look

when I asked you to

say it one more time

I should’ve known then

when I stopped hearing you

that my own love

had flown the nest

but I’ve always been stubborn

and I cling to thin wisps

of things that are

long past expiration

It was something to see

I’m sure

Summer/Autumn

     We lived for that intersection of seasons — the brief moment when summer and autumn coexisted, much like an eclipse of sun and moon. We were happy in that interim.

     And it was so quick. Fast like snapping your fingers. If only it were infinite, maybe then we’d be happy all the time.

     But its brevity made it what it was — a short respite from the oppressive heat of summer and the increasingly frosty mornings of fall. That temporal nature could not be stretched — no matter how much we wished for it to do so — because of the short stay, for that very base reason, it made us as happy as we could possibly be. We would surely not have known this kind of joy had it been one second longer.

Perspiring

It was something every time —

you tossed me onto the stairs

leading up to my apartment

and had me coming within seconds

my legs wrapped around your neck

fingers scrapping through your hair

nails in your tender scalp

your face between my thighs

I knew there was a reason I had worn a skirt that day

its thin fabric tangled around my waist

your palm slipping beneath my shirt

and over my breast, squeezing hard

so that I winced and trembled

simultaneously

you never let me reciprocate

gripped me tightly by the wrists

whenever I tried to undo the buttons on your jeans

and shoved me down on the futon

weighing my form deep into the cushion

and reaching for my waistband

so that I’d relent and roll my head back

moaning into the thick air of your living room

you’d be sweating by the time I was thoroughly spent

beads of moisture dripping from your shiny forehead

and me shaking uncontrollably beneath you

what made you do that —

pleasure me til I couldn’t speak or move

but never fuck me proper

like you said you’d constantly dream about

on the nights we spent apart?

imagine me naked at your front door

and kneeling on the floorboards

with my lips open

entire body trembling

every time I asked

you looked at me sideways

and smirked

told me that you sure as hell weren’t impotent

if that’s what I meant

and then kiss me until my lips were raw

so why’d you refuse

yourself that which I offered up

again and again and again

practically pleading

and yanking you towards the bedroom

with a desperation I’d never known

existed within me

I’d have let you do anything —

and I’m fairly certain after all this time

that I surely meant it —

you made me want to do it all

absolutely everything I had never considered

with just a hooded look

in my direction

and a hand casually brushing my hair

from my shoulder

I’d never wanted anyone more

one time you slapped me silly with your belt

and I had come just from the thrill

begged til I made a complete fool of myself

and then rushed off into the humid night

after my ultimatum fell flat at your feet

so that was the last straw I guess

you cut me loose

went off and probably did more lines

then you could count

I’d always known that you loved blow

(and tequila)

more than you could ever love me

in the way that I wanted to love you

but you never permitted

swatting me away with just a pointed finger

or not returning my phone calls

for days and days while I perched at

my window waiting impatiently

twitching at every sound on the street below

I’d probably still do anything

though I’ve been with others since

you left me

as have you

and I’ve calmed down a bit with age

and grown something of a spine

as most likely you have too

and you gave up snorting coke and only drink

miller high life now

from what I’ve heard

and I don’t mix hard liquors

with red wine

or date musicians (read: bassists)

anymore

but I have a deep-seeded suspicion

that I’d still be willing

I’d still be kneeling

and waiting

and waiting

staring up at you expectantly

naked and trembling

at your feet