Here’s what I know:
Out of every tree in the goddamn park we had the climb the one
bent sideways because it was the closest to the sky. It was autumn
and I couldn’t stop thinking about the way our eyes met when our teeth
brushed together. They were such fragile things, and
not even the moon could bruise as easily as your lip did when I
got too eager. I fell and broke my collarbone and you kissed my hips.
I said, no, that’s not what hurts. You said where? I said there and
pointed to the ache in my side, the splinter colliding where my heart
should have been. Your body felt like a mine shaft that made love to
the wrong kind of dynamite, all rough around the edges with buried treasure
sticking through that countless people had died for and I was to repent for their sins.
When we kissed you tongue tasted like sand and I dug a jewel out of
the rocks between my teeth, I wished hard like I was a bright-eyed kid
on Christmas morning kneeling before the gods of puppy wrapping paper
and materialism. Mom and dad were too busy fighting to know that
all I wanted for Christmas was the right skin, not the one God slapped
me in to begin. I was sixteen when I got into my first fistfight,
my knuckles bruised purple moon against the back of the pews.
The pastor said that it was a tie and that’d I’d teach them next time.
I cried all the way home, hands clenched into a fist no bigger than my heart.
My next round was at twenty-one and the pews had turned
into the shape of a bottle, a half lit cigarette. The bartender was the pastor
and he made us sing hallelujah before we raised the glass to our lips.
You say you’ve made friends but the stranger in the bar doesn’t know
the way your hands form, turning into crushed birds at the site of your
childhood dog’s grave. On the day that mom and dad divorced they dug
the tree up and now the sky reaches with empty hands. My collarbone still aches
every time the leaves turn. My parents say what do you want for Christmas
this year? I lean over, spit out a jewel into my drink. Somewhere somebody
has struck gold. Everybody prays for another glass.
Here’s what I know: everything ends.