No Such Thing
Bring me back chapped lips, skin that flakes at your temples, and thighs scooped out on the sides. We will separate the artifacts from your body, lay them on the apartment floor, and take photographs to memorialize the ways you changed.
I want to smell Mexico in your arm hairs.
I fall in love with your bed sheets while you are away. I kiss the fabric and hope the fibers become human cells and grow into you. I wear your t-shirts for dresses, sit in your chair, and wonder what you do with the light when it hits the wall in squares. Shuffling yellows. Slides stacked and filed in your desk drawers.
Bring me tumbleweed, too, I say when you call.
Your voice is two-dollar beer looping across the country.
I organize your books and try to reconstruct your hands from fingerprints left on the pages. Microscopic rings lifted and layered in my palms. I move dust to make room for the tumbleweed and hide the piles in your cactus pots.
Bring me back air inhaled from other states. The entire Texas sky transmitted through your tongue.
At night, I hold your sheet-self, lick the creases, and tuck you between my legs.
I want to be as large as your mattress. I want your arms. Your chin on my shoulder. I want to undress you when you return and find that you are still inside.
I don’t want anyone to see. Every morning, I scoop glittering pieces off the bedspread. I search folds of cool fabric, check behind the headboard and beneath the mattress until I discover all the tiny metallic bits. I swallow a few and push the others up.
Men come over to try to find the parts. If I asked them, they wouldn’t be able to tell me what they are looking for. They use their fingers first and after a little while, they lay me down.
I listen to my creaking bed while they work. Popping springs and shifting slats. I look out the window at my neighbor’s lights, orange strings across our backyard, and wish on each winking bulb that none of me comes out. Then, I think of accidents. Crumpled cars on a highway. A man on a gurney with streamers for guts and confetti for blood.
Inside me, the sparkling pieces vibrate against my throat, my stomach.
I wait for the men to give up, to realize that it is not possible. I wait for them to leave something instead. A warning, maybe, to the next one.
After the men go home, I sit in the bathroom and feel what they left drop into the toilet. My neighbor argues with her boyfriend behind the wall. My neighbor takes a shower. My neighbor cries. Every time the same flush drowns her.
I am waiting for someone with fingers like soft waves and skin that slides instead of beats. A man who slips into my body words that speak to the glittering pieces. When he moves, I will pull myself open.
I go for walks when you are away. Today, I follow my street towards the edge of the island and find green buds sprouting from the limbs of my favorite tree. The tree lives in a garden populated with tin can art and its branches drape over a surrounding fence like hair over a woman’s back. I touch the chain links, dip my fingers in the spaces, and grab hold. I pull myself on tiptoe and pretend to be tall.
I am queen here. I rule over insect bodies, matted leaves, and dirt piles that will soon grow flowers. I speak to the koi and they move for me, swim in circles at my feet, and sometimes even jump.
Behind the tree are suggestions of summer activity. Toppled watering cans, rusty pinwheels, lawn flamingos, and splintered patio furniture. We would sit in these chairs if you were here. We would preside together, controlling seasons with our moods.
I let go of the fence and continue east. I watch my own dark cut-out move beside me on the ground. I would grasp her hand if I could, carry identical bones with my bones, finally sure of the skeleton I inhabit.
Men flick ashes and gobs of spit from apartment stoops. I notice the wear of their sneakers, frays in the toes, and stretched nylon laces. Their skin grows in miniature folds, indications of limp dicks hidden beneath trousers. Still, they notice me back.
A sign reads, Road maps sold here, and you become a dot gliding across one of the arcing red lines. You intersect states. You dodge one river and traverse another. Here, you move away from me only in inches. A distance I could cover.
You have been gone for three days and what I miss most of all are your shoulders and the way they fit in the cups of my hands.
I come to a path that bridges the highway and takes me to the shore. I start climbing the ramp as a cyclist rides down and in the moment he passes I reach for what I sense is inside him: something that feels like you.
At the bridge’s apex, I stop for the traffic. I lean against the metal railing and listen to machines louder than the ocean beside them.
This road connects to another that connects to another that connects to a street where you drive. Maybe with one hand on your knee. Maybe with one hand on the knob of the radio because a song you like has just come on, and the song reminds you of me. You want it to fill you. You want it in the cavity where I am supposed to be. And if I dropped into the movement, if I fell into all these mechanical parts, I am certain you would feel the ripple of my crash.