Sorrow in Six Partitions

I

We suffered separately until the very end.

My hand pressed against your chest, hoping... but it collapses and I'm in your emptiness again, floating with absent infant lovers. It's too clean here, bones so bright I want to play them against your vertebrae, splay my fingers across the gaps in your pretty ribs. Blood oozes through tipping toes as I scar your tissues accidentally.

You break, and fragile pieces ring my pleas for honesty. Honestly, we've never been complete. She was the key to leaving torpid pasts behind, rewinding years of stale resentment. Bones crack, sing of what could be, but all your movements aren't listening as you shrug away from me.

I slide while I'm inside, climb against your ribs for borrowed oxygen. you taste of silence and week-old cigarettes, but for a moment I can breath, speak, bleed, tears hitchhiking through my bloodstream. We're in between, grieving parents to be.

We strive, neurotic tides shifting with the sands of stolen hourglasses. Every little girl I see is me, one lovely life ago, but they're all sleeping. Pillows follow at their heels in childish fancy.

And now your body is the only thing that will ever be close to me.

II

You hate me in my dreams, watch stoically as sunlight beams against the creamy Gothic walls of this mausoleum. Her name adorns a square of fresh-picked granite. We disagreed, but I don't recall who chose to fold. Stomach stretched, I wretch when you aren't looking. these visitations strike us all down, but you're higher.

I think it's because you're naked, baked and nodding at girls who stroll in rolling green beneath our windows. They blink, unsure of your alluring indecision. I try to smile as they look back and scurry away, but they leave that innocence you used to find so intimate.

In sleep I stroke your spine, but you frown and leave behind the dreams of always. Ripples trickle in your wake, searching out old houses built by imaginary lovers, and my fingers break against your arrogance. Did you forget that time last winter when you shoved me in the street? That was the day I gave defeat in your direction.

I wake up tangled in my covers, perturbed, water flowing behind closed doors until I remember.

Drip drip, you took a shower in the next room, sadness swirling down around your ankles and I could hear it screaming.

Wasn't that the way it went when we eloped into our own worlds?

Drip drip, grocery store coffee like road tar brewing, two seasons since I'd swallowed down that bitter-blue.

Drip drip, the windows streamed with dreams of seamless raindrop ribbons.

Everything was crying but our eyes.

III

You're so much better at running, strapping yourself to insolence and escapade. You've found places where she doesn't touch you from that faraway end-of-earth, that lacey-cold infant grave she crawled into, and you hide them from me.

There are no more children's toys to swim in, no more queasy lips to kiss with a smile of anticipation. The only kicking in my belly is of loss, and then you're gone, drinking to forget the both of us. You say it's healthy.

I latch on to your justification, juxtaposing it between my teeth so when I bite down it shocks me, makes me almost as numb as your drugs do. It's all the same game, only I imbibe entirely empty handed. Tonight we share the bed of sleeping alone. Unspent grief looms, strewn across a disfigured nursery room grown lovingly into our brains, and we just throw rocks at it.

We can't destroy ourselves so simply, feeding pain to unborn children lurking in the interim. We're selfish and we're keeping her alive behind our eyes, waiting for the day it doesn't hurt to say goodbye. She cries, helpless wailing while we fail to keep our promises.

We fade.

Overdose always burns brighter tomorrow, they say.

IV

Peace.

I pray, remember how to split my lips in sacrifice. Yours sip at smooth white pillars toppled over in your fingers, suckling those slim cylinders. Tar-tinged plumed envelope your defiance, reach out to drag me down into the monochrome. God may not be listening, but I speak. There is nowhere else to grieve when you won't look at me.

You're searching, stomach lurching with all our disturbing dreams . What should have been is clawing at your knees. I feel her crying for my arms, but I'm too weak. I know now what it is to want, but you can't see, and I wake up to an open closet. You left a cell phone breathing softly with hesitant sighs as tonight's "I love you."

One palm against my abdomen, I weep for you and me. This time has not been kind to anything we sought, all but forgotten while it drains to pave the way for tomorrow's sunrise.

I crawl beneath the apple tree outside, defying the fruitless parts of me.

V

You would be perfect for her, with all your obscurity. I'm sure I know you just as well as she. You lie, tell them you're fine but it's me they need, the white coats knocking down our door to ask their questions. When they push, you claim emotional maturity. I wish you would fall apart so I could cry for you, stop hurting so selfishly as men with needles come to pull me under.

But you're empty, and I can't puke out any more empathy. I gave you sacrifice and servitude in vain, collapsed the veins of sweet stability until it all bled out the same. We won't be real until your drugs are dried up and you're filled with something... until you can actually be.

We fight, sobriety taking sides. You tell me it's alright that faeries live inside your bottles, leafed fingers crafting sticky alcohol mumblings to stumble across your collar. You curse— I didn't know Jesus Christ was a name you called on often. He can't help you as you're dripping and melting, slipping and splitting between my fingers, drowning yourself from the inside out.

You want to slide, you say, fall between the lines of time so you can see her smiling, translucent and imperfect. You never met her lidded gaze, the way I did that day. When you came, my mind already read "alone." Everything we were is one dead child, such a sickening realization.

She has become to you what used to be me.

VI

We fray.

Dissipate.