and the sounds pale as if they come from water
so deep and heavy
that no words can reach.
and so too, the colors are reduced to murmurs,
reds to blues to greys;
but they linger,
trapped between immobile water.
and time itself unwinds,
its strands overtaxed by the weight
of your life.
it has been two years since you left.
was the call of the mermaids too strong for you?
i don’t understand:
you were mesmerized by cigarette butts and smoke
floating from flickering candlelight,
and embers burning low;
by bathtubs –
white marble hollow enough to
swallow you whole.
i’m sure that from time to time,
you wondered what it would be like
to ride the a train till it looped,
to go to a frat party,
to say hello to the girl you thought you loved from afar.
never once did you look up from the mundane.
but when did you learn to see past
snow-stained boots and the sunday smog?
when did you learn to be escapist,
to drown yourself in the fantastical?
why didn’t you tell me?
did i become too busy,
or you too aimless?
was it my fault?
perhaps i simply wasn’t looking
when you went swimming some sultry summer day
and lost yourself amongst the waves,
you found that all your decisions and indecisions could not reach
and you were sure
for the first time,
as you were swept away by the tides
of a vast and incomprehensible
here is my truth:
i have not lived since you left,
i may be turning into you.
i see your uncertainty in
i see your hesitant posture,
with elbows tucked in and head bent down,
laughs nervous creatures that shy away from too many gazes
because you knew impermanence,
are they like you too?
are we like you too?
am i in the process of becoming so,
was i your regret?
could it have been me?
lips red then blue then grey,
unhearing because i too love music and though mermaids are no sirens
they sing just as sweetly.
(you have taught me too well.)
did you ever pretend to be asleep at a table surrounded by
your laughing friends
for closeness is suffocation dread and longing?
we have so much to lose.
and before you ask me if i dare,
if you’d ask me if i dared,
first tell me if you’re everywhere;
if the disease in us is in the world,
if i must guard my heart from mermaids
and from our friends who will take our lives with them
if i should have held you at a distance,
to save you,
to save me.