your mouth

(a poem I wrote for a dear friend in the aftermath of her heartbreak)

Ours was a superhero love in the name of “you and I against the world”
with its heady persistence that navigated years and jobs and moving vans,
a mother’s death, cousin’s wedding, a trip to the emergency room and to Europe …and the infinite possibility of future.

Then, you cry and cry and I hold your hand because I love you and I see that you are hurting. And as my heart breaks for you, a whisper escapes your sobs… “I slept with someone…else.” And the breaking heart shatters… this time for me. For us. For the bleak truth that our superhero love lost.

You’re explaining how it happened now, but the details land on the pale green cushions beneath me- the $5 cushions we discovered at a garage sale on the corner of 6th and Main. I remember hugging you and shrieking as the wind lifted my skirt above my ass right in front of two elderly gentlemen. Slowly, the image of that pleasant afternoon slips down my cheek and lands next to your words, leaving a wet tear stain on the fabric, dissolving that infinite possibility of future.

Your lips part and close as sounds drone across the great divide between us like missiles, haphazardly destroying memory after memory. They obliterate instantaneously, no match for the lengthy explanation and professions from your mouth. Your mouth is on her body and in her body and whispering “fuck me” into her ear as you…fucked her. And it simultaneously implores my forgiveness because you love me. You explain that my pardon would be the quid pro quo for the strength forgiveness brings. We’d become the past and future parts of ourselves, the growing phalanx of devastations and triumphs that collectively form our story, which you say, is worth untold hers.

Silence. We sit in silence for the lifetimes it took to get here. And it’s savage in the end.

“Forgiveness, you see, is the saddest doing you’ll ever do. So I choose Bitterness. With all its insidious venom, I choose it. I hope it seeps from my mouth to yours so that you may never whisper professions of love, and I hope it’s bitter enough to roil your clarity of mind so that you reel as I am now. And when I leave, I’m taking the living with me so you may fend for yourself in the wreckage.”