Baby duck!

"You still cry too easily, but without your tears, at least, everything would burn."

"You still cry too easily, but without your tears, at least, everything would burn. You are Spring in your jeans, in the laughing leaves. I think pearls melted over your bones." -Francesca Lia Block, Wasteland

Is this the Kitty I think it is? Forgive me if it isn't. Forgive me if it is.

The holidays are coming, and maybe it's a clumsy thought, but if there were any time best suited for reconciliations, it would be now. Toward the end of the year, some of us can't help but reminisce, revisit past losses and achievements, take stock of life. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think everyone needs love, warmth, and cheer this time of year. Just give me a moment, just long enough to read this, before you send me away again.

I remember evenings on the phone, when you would read Francesca Lia Block to me. I remember buying you her book. Was it Christmas then? I remember Freshman year, when we all chose to trust each other immediately, let ourselves be vulnerable with each other, maybe too quickly. I remember when I thought, foolishly, egotistically, that I could make you happy, just by being a good enough friend. I remember thinking that maybe no one had tried hard enough before, and that I could do it. But I couldn't.

I don't know what you think of it all now, but you once told me that you believed I'd never cared about you, that everything I'd ever told you was a lie. I couldn't understand you, then. I knew how I felt about you, so how could you not take me at my word? But how could you take me at my word? I'd betrayed you, sometimes knowingly, and often (worst of all) completely ignorant of what I was doing to you. I was stupid. I thought I could be selfish, and that it would be okay, because I was happy, and you should be happy for me.

Does it help if it turned out that he's the love of my life? Is it any better if I admit that I believed true love was only worth it if you fought for it, against all obstacles? Is it an excuse to say that I'd read too many fairy tales, and thought that if someone was in love, everyone would wind up happy in the end somehow?

I should have fought for you, too. I was fighting so many battles then, and I didn't know how to keep up. You hated me so fiercely, and I didn't know how to handle it. I didn't know how to break through. I tried with words, but they weren't enough. I'm trying with words, still. I miss you. I often wonder how you're doing, wish that wherever you are, you're happy. Has enough time passed? Do you still hate me? Can you ever forgive me? You were a bright spot in my day, every day, once upon a time. And maybe, once upon a time, I made your day better, not worse, when I was around. Can you think of anything, any small spark, that makes you think our friendship is worth the struggle, worth fighting for? Could we try to be friends again?
Baby duck!


My body says, "This morning, I need him more than ever." Funny; my heart whispers these same words all day. My heart swells larger by the minute, the muscle aching, tired, overused. At this instant, I need you to hold me.

The storm of other people's tears is raging in my chest. When Meaghan cries on my shoulder, the salt seeps into my pores. When Jennifer whispers her bitterness, my ear grows accustomed to abuse. For the first time in a while, my inner shield is failing.

The martyr-devil on my shoulder whispers, "I'm more sensitive than you know." The closet neo-pagan rages against evil energy. I, terrified, clamp one hand over the mouth of each devil. Whoever hears my weakness will stop needing me.

That's the crux of the matter. If I wasn't needed for support, my heart would shrivel up, my skin would crack, and every piece of me would crumble into dust.

I thought we could take turns. She would cry, then the other one, then maybe Rachel, and eventually relief would come to me. I wish I were allowed to make a scene. I wish we planned out schedules. Monday, 2pm through 5pm, the wailing, wrenching sadness would belong to me. Meaghan could have 5pm until the next day, and Jennifer'd take all day after that. I just need a segment of time, an hour, fifteen minutes, to let go, when no one would think less of me.

I don't even need to cry, maybe. Perhaps an arm around my shoulders or a hand on my cheek will do.
Baby duck!


I fell asleep far too late last night; drifted off with a hand over my heart. When I dreamt about you, I dreamt that you were weeping in my arms. You cried against my chest, my right hand in your hair, my left rubbing your back. In my dream, we sat like this for hours. I suppose my mind reworked reality to suit my wish -- I dreamt that I'd been with you that morning, that we'd looked up at the gray sky together, that I'd had the chance to whisper something soothing in your ear.

Paradoxically, I don't want you to cry, but I do want to kiss your tears. I want to know the taste of them, as I know how your fingers taste after you've played guitar, as I know the taste of your collar bone, as I know your other tastes. If I could only describe your tears, give them a solid definition, perhaps I'd discover how to make them go away.

You've invaded all my senses, you know. Most recently, especially at work, I'll hear you singing pieces of a song, or coaxing notes from your guitar. I wonder if you even realize how much your presence comforts me, how much it means for me to rest my hand against your cheek.

As for me, my arrogance knows no bounds. I let myself believe that, often, you sleep a little easier when I'm beside you. Often, I sleep easier, too.
Baby duck!

At evening.

This is the beginning: the two of them on his bed, each curling into the softness of the other's body. A thousand "don't"s, "shouldn't"s, and other such pests lie littered among them. Some of these critters pull at the sheets to cover bare arms, feet, fingertips; some clamber into her hair, into his, and get in the way of reaching hands.

Giving no warning at all, her mind decides to flee. It scrambles from the bed, scooping up stray "don't"s, and drops them into a pocket. His mind follows suit, sweeping away each "shouldn't" with a motion like a caress. The two minds barricade themselves inside the door's keyhole, panting, breathless, alone.

The bodies are left to their own devices. Suddenly empty of thought, each body inches toward the other. Her lips find his lips, his fingertips press against her fingertips, and skin finds skin.

With no minds to set their boundaries, the bodies forget which part belongs to whom. Legs tangle up in each other, hair flattens itself against the wrong face, and when his hand strokes her cheek, he feels the shiver. Goosebumps distribute themselves equally.

Words begin to pool low in his throat, and he lets them out: "I am all yours." Her body understands this only partially, conceives a primitive notion of ownership, and carries on. From its place in the keyhole, her mind catches his body's words and begins to brood. His mind slaps itself on the forehead. Meanwhile, her body loses itself in the scent of him.

Eventually, their minds return and pull them to their feet. Each mind brings with it an awareness of hunger, of being tired, of too much time having passed. The two of them separate, and amble off in search of food.
Baby duck!


There was a moment: my head leaned back against your chest, hearing your heartbeat; your chin pressed against my head, eyes probably closed. Your fingers tangled in my hair, sliding around my earlobe, down my cheek. Maybe I heard your heart speed up, or maybe I imagined it. Then your hand cupped my chin, and I felt you tilt your head downward, burying your nose into my hair. For a split second, for less than a second, really, the tilt to your head and the warmth of your fingers made me think you were going to kiss me. A shiver ran through me, so quickly that you might not have felt it. For half a second, I was terrified, breathless. I think I closed my eyes, or else opened them if they'd been closed before. And maybe, for just a fraction of a second, I wanted it.

And now I'm in a dangerous place, weaving through my memories, wondering if one thing meant another, if something meant anything at all.

Remember doing homework together that first time in your room? We two on the floor, she in a chair, paying no attention. You clarified a question for me, and I looked up, straight into your eyes, said, "You're wonderful." Suddenly, I felt I'd said too much, felt awkward. I don't know if you noticed when I dropped my gaze immediately to the floor, and then looked up again, shrewdly searching your expression. I wondered if you'd seen too much in what I'd said and taken it the wrong way -- and wondered if I'd meant more in it than I'd meant to say.

Sometimes, when I'm in your arms, and our eyes happen to meet, you give a tiny smile, whisper "Hello," and wave a little, as though we hadn't seen each other all day. I remember when I used to do that last year. Catching your gaze in a certain way used to make me nervous. So I whispered, "Hello," afraid that if I didn't say something silly, some other words would spill out of my mouth; afraid that if I didn't distract you with my hand waving, you'd see something in my eyes that I'd been trying to hide.

I don't want to hurt anyone, and I don't want to ruin anything for you, but there's something in the texture of your hair and skin that makes me want to touch you. There's something of an adventurer in me that wants to map you out. It doesn't have to mean anything, but I wouldn't give up evenings with you for all the world.
Baby duck!

A wish.

Someone to look at me each day as though he were memorizing my face anew. As though it were worth memorizing. Someone as fascinated as I by the strangeness of warmth and skin on skin, by the breezy softness of fingertips trailing along an arm. Someone to find in me perfections that I never knew existed. Someone to reach out and hold me at the instant I realize I need to be held. Someone who loves words, loves clarity, and fits his phrases together carefully, as though they were beams of a house he'd like to live in.

Easy conversations and easy silences. Exchanged locks of hair. Volumes contained in exchanged glances. A depth of meaning unpalpable, ineffable, and totally unique. Something worth the effort of poetry. Something in the spirit of history's great love stories, without the tragedy. Whispers and caresses and eyes that light up. Shivers that dance through the base of my spine; fingers to cause such shivers.

Someone to remind me how pretty my eyes can be; (someone with pretty eyes). Someone encouraging me to exercise the nuance in my speaking voice. Someone encouraging. Someone encouraged. Someone ambitious, hopeful, disciplined. Someone who likes ducks. Someone who'd be hurt before hurting. Someone safe.

Trust. Off-key duets over the phone and in each other's arms. Being each other's muses. An unrivaled combined creativity. Lying on the grass together, looking up at the spaces of sky between tree leaves. Love like the eye of a hurricane. Love that softens grey skies, dries the tears.

Someone intelligent. Someone kind. Someone who slays dragons.

Something that makes angels of us and lifts us to sunlight through the fog.
Baby duck!

After midnight.

Heavy words are easier to say at three a.m., even with the thickness of a sleep-deprived tongue. Wes and I are on opposite ends of our country's east coast, connected through wires and the phones at our ears. When the sun comes up in a few hours, we'll still be whispering to each other, our throats hoarse and dry from prolonged use.

Our weekly conversations fall into a rhythm: shallow talk, an hour of it, then finally the heavy topics suck us in. When we were young and stupid, thinking we were in love, we used to play this game a lot. Truth or Truth, we called it, each answering difficult questions for the another. Now, though love isn't the issue, we try this game again, with variations: if one of us can't think of a question, we simply order the other to confess -- something, anything.

For instance, "You don't know it, but when we were together, I'd decided that if I were to give my virginity away to anyone, it'd be to you. Oh well."

Or, "I kissed Kitty, and I'm not ashamed. We were on her bed, in front of other people, hands roving, shirts pulled up. Nothing ever came of it, except my own epiphany."

I do this because late at night, this game feels quite like poetry. Confessions about sex, love, fear of dying alone (or worse, living alone), half-whispered into darkness, passed through phones and phone lines, into the ears of another soul. I can only ever tell my truths impersonally, through words on a paper, confessions into a phone, and other such devices. Never, never in a million years, could I wholly share myself and make eye contact.

As such, though Wes and I may play at being honest, I don't think we'll ever really know each other well.
Baby duck!

Poetry exercise.

Rational Sorrow

Sleep is like drowning -- in my bed
the room's long curtains press
upon me like an ocean's weight.
Sleep is like drowning, when I wake
with moisture in the corners of my eyes.

(To be continued...)
Baby duck!

"Love is the miraculous delay of its own termination."

"I believe
women like to see a man
still whole, still standing, but
about to go to pieces: such
disintegration reminds them
of passion."
--Louise Glück, Telemachus' Fantasy

Simultaneously, I long for passion and to be left alone. I had a dream in which I told him, "I still love you," or was it he who said it? I'm far too rational to want him back, but I do miss the friendship of six months ago, where we exchanged "I love you"s appropriately, harmlessly, without awkwardness.

I am exhausted now. I hope, whenever the next relationship comes, the man will be passionate, rather than bravely falling apart. And I hope, for once, he'll be the one pursuing, while I will know what it's liked to be wooed.
Baby duck!


A half-sentence, overheard or misheard, on the train:
"Poetry could have been avoided if..."
This muttered by one high school student to another.
Train-rumblings preclude my hearing of the rest.

But what could make us avoid poetry?
Perhaps if line breaks hadn't been invented,
if scrolls were rolled out horizontally,
trailing along the arm like pseudo-veins,
these single lines of flowing ink
a sentence-long decree, no pause for breath.
What room, then, could there be for poetry?
Oh, poetry is breathing in and out:
a pregnant pause delivers new emotion.

Perhaps if there were never any lovers
pulled apart, if no heart ever broke in half
with sorrow... Or maybe if before our births,
they'd cut our tongues, pulled off our ears,
and squeezed our eyeballs out, we couldn't have
a single thing to say, or wouldn't know to say it,