i'm trying to save you but it's difficult
1. I like to think the moon was always jealous of the way
I look at you like the sun. How your laugh turns me into a pillar of salt,
how your voice repositions the needle of my vocal cords
until my syllables match your own.
If I were an optimist I would hope to wake up to you, alive,
every morning, but we both know the sun doesn’t always rise
on exactly the same zenith we want it to most.
2. Now with you gone, more miles apart than I care to count, I organize my sock drawer. I try not to remind myself that your sweaters still smell like you even though it’s been months since you last wore them. My insides are bloody knuckles bruised from weeks of beating myself up, hoping you’re okay.
3. I try counting the days you’re still alive at night instead of sheep whenever I’m worried most about the number of lines on your arms. Wishing you wouldn’t treat yourself like a paper doll so easily sliced to shreds in so many places. You always touched my hips with careful hands, like your home was embedded in my body. Now I just wonder if you were trying to discover what it felt like
to touch skin that was unmarked by blades.
4. The homeless man sprawled across the doorstep on the next street
still looks at me with forgiveness.
I don’t know what I have to be sorry for.
But sometimes it feels like the mistake was always mine for loving you
when you were unable to love yourself, the punishment
watching you wade through tidal waves of your own misery.
5. I tell you it’s alright.
I tell you it’s fine.
They taste like cheap lies in my mouth, every time.
6. There are still beds I’ve slept in that remind me of you:
messy, rumpled, used, trying to find your way back to being clean.
I want to draw the sheets back and find a new you underneath.
7. In this neighborhood the roads part like outstretched hands. The cars pass in threads like loose teeth, and every smashed window rushing past, glaring with sun, is just another metaphor for how cracked you feel even on the days when you burn the brightest to me. You’re always the pessimist in this relationship. You’re the cynic of yourself. I’m not the optimist, but something in between. I don’t know what you’d call it. Maybe trying to love you twice as hard as you hate yourself. Maybe I’m that person.
8. The worst days are the ones I call you up just to hear your breath
to clarify that you haven’t killed yourself yet.
The worst days are the ones I want to remove everything sharp
from your room and throw it out with the used milk cartons
but I’m in an entirely different state.
The worst days are the ones where I don’t hear from you
and have to wonder whether today will be the day they find your broken body.
The worst days come so often now that they can’t even be called worse
because now they’re just normal.
9. I love the moles on your back and the braided scar on your shoulder that rises under my thumb. I love the sharp handle of your hipbone and the smile that stretches like a parking ramp. I love how you cradle my elbows and kiss my neck. I try to focus on these things to take my mind off the fact that your depression is slowly killing you.
10. When things get really bad, I listen to your favorite songs and try to decode the lyrics just to make sure they’re not suicide notes waiting to happen.