In joy

What 
is joy
compared to
a lasting
ache

In joy
I lack the
preoccupation
the restless attachment
the wondering if
my feelings are matched
or returned at all

In joy
all I have
is the way
you leaned in to kiss me

The memory of standing
in the stairwell
you held my gaze
you held me
to share you’re not
seeing anyone else

All I have
are the hands
that didn’t let go of mine
from that first kiss
in the middle of your kitchen

I’m not sure how to write
in joy

But I can try.

I’ll look to the south

You are 
your favorite authors 
your beloved
literary characters.

I dive to understand
your mind 
and come up
breathless and more confused.

I seek refuge among
the clues you’ve given me
in memories a decade old.

I review the
drunken truths you let
slip that evening. 

I only get you
when your guard is down, 
broken in with substances
meant to numb you.

I just hope I find you
before you meet the same fate
as the characters you look to
to fill your lonely heart. 

Shoreline

Paused,
I stood on the boardwalk
unsure of how close
to the Atlantic's edge
I could allow 
my planted feet.

I slept on the beach
as the sun drifted
to horizon
and I still
could not touch my
body to the 
water.

I knew then
that if I 
sought peace
at the shoreline
I would find myself there.

Yearning and sad.
Emptying what 
came before 
and making space
for the new.

Unsure if I could
continue grieving
what came and went,
what did not
happen.

The shoreline contained
both open and closed ends
of whatever it is
that led me to the ocean water.

The shore revealed
all parts of me
alone and seeking
something other
than the company
of my own mind.

And so I left
the ocean
and its company
a day early
because I was not ready
to hold
what its waters
led me
to face.

T-shirt

I’m thinking of
how it felt
waking up to the sunrise
in a room that wasn’t my own.
 
I watched it rise higher
as I thought of the night before
how magic was made,
co-created with quick wit,
intimacy,
hearing the stories of
the rocks and art in your room.
 
I tried to rest,
and when sleep wouldn’t take me,
I reached across you
for the cup of water on your nightstand.
You startled awake.
 
I rose from the bed to leave.
We talked lightly as I
put my clothes on.
 
I don’t remember the words you used
or the tone in your voice
when you instructed me to
leave the shirt
I had borrowed to sleep in.
 
And I think in that moment I knew
I wouldn’t be back in this room
or in that bed
or under the two blankets
sleeping next to you without
a pillow because you only had one.
 
I took the T-shirt off and
didn’t listen to your explanation
of what it meant to you
and don’t remember if
I even asked
or if I said
something funny to blunt
how it felt being told
to leave this piece of you.
 
It was in that short sentence
I realized
you didn’t want any loose ends.
I would be a temporary connection,
an afterthought.
 
Now looking back
at a moment meant to mean nothing
but charged with more than
I could’ve grasped in the
fog of alcohol,
I wonder what it is
that T-shirt means to you.
 
Maybe you just like it.
It’s vintage and cool
and worn and
it looks like its traveled and
I loved the way it felt when I put it on.
 
When I took it off it felt cold and
used and I
wanted to tell you that I
didn’t want to take it from you
in the first place.
 
And in hindsight I know
that the t-shirt didn’t fit,
it wasn’t mine to wear.
Maybe the contrast of it on me
was too telling.
Maybe it was clear just how much
it did not belong to me.
 
It was that simple request
to leave what was yours
exactly where you wanted it
that led me to hear
what you have said from the start.
 
In the end,
I’m thinking
of how it felt
waking up to the sunrise
in a t-shirt that wasn’t my own.
 
I liked
wearing something
important to you and
although it was temporary
I liked how it felt.

I liked who 
I imagined
you saw in that t-shirt.