“I want to bury my face in your neck, in your hair.” It began like this. But then the romance dropped out of my hands and fell onto the floor in that loud clattering way love never is.
I wish you had never written to me. The same way I wish I hadn’t been so brave so as to come and see you from two thousand, six-hundred and eighty-one kilometres away. I wish we had never tried to make this real; the way that says, “It was terrible and beautiful and unforgettable and I don’t know how to be without it anymore.”
One time is all it took to be ruined. One time and one person. Like an accident.
For all our left turns, you are the right thing, the one thing that is mine. Seeing you in the flesh, touching your skin, and kissing your mouth was the bravest thing I have attempted and the weakest I have felt. You are the fire and the firemaker too. You are the woodsman and the axe too. You are everything I did not know I wanted and now struggle to live without.
I know it like I know the needle of a tattoo; this is what it means when they say you cannot miss what you do not know. But how do you not miss what you now know?
How do you unsee beauty like that of your lover’s face lit by a diffident lamp on the street below? Hair spilling across her face like a sheer sheath; lips parted by hunger?
How do you unknow the moistness of her sweat against your belly? How do you find the heart to scrape away the tenderness of her body that lay just that once upon yours?
I can love you or live without you but I cannot do both. I cannot say the words that offer simple respite; “I love you, I miss you.” I don’t miss you. I miss myself. Ever since I met you I lost myself on the way back and I never came home.
My body is a milk carton with the last pictures taken of me before I disappeared into you. I could sit on a supermarket shelf and never be noticed. We don’t miss what we did not know.