After comfort settles in, you wonder if the giddy anticipation has already packed its suitcase and whether it has already considered embarking on the next flight home. Today, your hair is pulled back in a soft tousled ponytail and the two hours you spent getting ready for your first real date has since waned into a rushed ten minutes, bobby pins resting at the corner of your lips. No longer do you wait on the staircase, eyes cast through the dusty window at the curve of your street for his car. Instead, you hear the electricity of his footsteps come humming up your front step, reverberating memorized and familiar, a sound that still makes the edges of your heart rise upwards like something you mumble in your sleep. It is today you decide that this is normal. His socks on the floor, his shoes kicked off and remaining tied tightly at your front doormat. He smiles and it looks exactly like last September, like uncomfortable summer, melting like birthday candles and falling in love with a stranger all over again.
You know him now, his hands, little—but firm. Those eyes shining in the humid July, and you swear that if someone asked you to choose their color from a palette, you could find it in a heartbeat, with a nonchalant point of a finger. Yet there will always be something about him, something new and as fresh as a ripe apple falling from the highest branch, bright burning red that you catch with your bare hands before it has the chance to hit the ground.
And your love, though you have learned it by heart, is the apple, scarlet and dewy, that you keep your eyes gazing up at even after you have memorized the physics of its fall. His arms are a fire you have warmed yourself by long enough to feel safe forever. But you are both ruthless and young, burning in dangerous shades of potential eternities.

You have fallen, but you are still falling. Love has a knack for catching the hopeless.

Arms Race

Those days,
I remember them clearly– the ones decorated in violence.
There was no one left for me to fight
but the distorted figure glaring back
in the dirty mirror,
the reflected face that suffocated my gaze,
exhaling new nightmares like shattered glass fragments of insecurity
dropped from every creaky fire escape
overlooking the collarbone roads
of my own demolished city.
Those days,
my heart hurt more than it desired to beat.
But the pretty words flowed out of my fingertips like honey,
poetry never hiding at the back of my throat
like something that was afraid of commitment.
It filled all of the empty spaces,
cursive loops imprinted upon the edges of time,
the gaps between my own hands rubbing together in the winter,
black ink serenading pale paper.
Never lacking, never losing.
But the war has since ended.
The battlefield no longer exists in the trenches of my mind,
monuments proclaiming love rather than defeat.
I now rise to the bittersweet taste of victory,
morning bells chiming in my ears
as if this is my first time hearing music. Days have blurred into warm colors and melodies of laughter, of faith, of newfound innocence.
I have learned that it is easiest to swallow life by adding a teaspoon of sugar.
It is easiest to live without the weight of failed attempts.

I miss them so.
The words rarely visit.
Rarely call.
They are quieter now, poetry confined to corners I cannot see.
They were only ever around to witness the gore, the blood, the fickle sweat.
And once they had witnessed the scars fade into pink,
they did too– just like all of the hurt that had risen up out of my tender bones
and into the stars.