GREAT DANES AND TEA BAGS

I like to imagine you reading my poetry. It’s almost sadistic, how desperately I wish to witness your pupils nervously flitting from line to line, configuring words into something resembling meaning, occasionally stumbling upon a memory of ours and swallowing hard. I play the reverie over and over in my mind. A blink. A clearing of the throat, then an Adam’s apple following shortly behind. Yes, I’m a little sick in the head.

I like to imagine that the act of doing so is something secret, privately profane, only permissible once she falls asleep so there are no questions asked that you can’t answer. Like why you care so much about what I have to say, or why you have to wait until two in the morning to tediously unravel what I’ve made. I like to imagine you killing time until her eyelids flutter shut before finally letting the glow of your screen suffuse your skin. And then you begin, catching glimpses of your face in every “you” I’ve written.

The images come in brutal flashes. There we are in June, in my car, the wind blowing so ruthlessly I keep choking on my own hair. It’s our seventeenth summer. I’m learning how to drive and I hit every curb. You’re smoking the cigarettes you stole from your older brother which he stole from your dad. You’re laughing at me. You can’t look away.

Tonight, you can’t look away, either. You sink silently into each aching recollection. That time we almost adopted the Great Dane we didn’t have one square foot of space for. How you’d tie tea bag strings around my ring finger, promising me the whole world.

In the morning she’ll kiss you awake and ask how you slept. And you’ll say It was fine. But you won’t mention how stealthily you had to cry, careful not to disturb her peace.

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