shorthand of what I’d like to remember

we sit without talking for hours. She speaks. I quietly hold my body laying on the bed feeling the blood in my neck. She doesn’t leave. She asks if she should. No. She touches my knee. Places her head on my knees. I reach for her. I pull her over me. Crying. “missed you. missed you.”

“fuck you.” she’s crying now. “I missed you. I missed you too.”

bodies curl around each other. I go down, under, bending beneath, over…she comes.

“I thought you hated me. I thought you’d hate me.”

“I love you.” silence

“I waited all day for you.”

“I avoided you all day.”

“why?…didn’t know what to say or knew what to say and couldn’t say it, or knew what to say and didn’t want to say it.”

“All of it.”

her hands touch me more then they ever have. She kisses me with her whole mouth and I try to give her mine. She holds me like I usually find myself holding her.

“I’m sorry I kissed a man this week.” It’s a funny story, sweet when she wrote it.

“my mother wishes you a safe trip. She knows about you. she says be careful of the international men because she said you’re pretty. She asked if you’ve always been gay. Then she said, “Because she’s just so pretty…I mean…uh.” Ha! She then asked, “are you sure she’s not European?” I told her no. you just know Haitians. Well, she says to just be safe.” Giggles and silence.

“I want to belong to you.”

“I don’t know if I can do that.” She sounds pained.

A night lapses and we wake in the morning. My head moves down, my hands reach up, moving this way until stopped. I freeze. I leave the bed. She calls to me. I sit on the floor, head on the edge of bed, cloth around my head. Her hands stroking my hair, cooing at my head to come back. she didn’t mean to push me off. Her body was sleeping and she didn’t mean it. reaches for me.

Laying like this I stare up at her. wondering what to do with myself. Does she love me? she doesn’t want me. we just made love. She told her mother about me. she writes “that there are sliding doors….there are doors that open.” She writes “I miss you.” I don’t know whether I’m to leave or stay.

I ask her when she returns from getting water. She sits next to me, holds out her hand. Asks me what it is. “what do you want me to do?”

“I don’t know.”

Do you love me?

“I like you. but I can’t be in a relationship again.”

I nod. I know what she means. I sincerely do. I say that it seemed very cultish—her last one. She laughs. Asks me how so. “I don’t know. it just seems so.”

“it did seem so. We even had followers.” Gross.

“I don’t want that. I wasn’t asking for that. I don’t want to be anything other than this. when I ask to belong to you, I’m asking you to love me. when I ask you to let me in, I’m not asking for anything but to be near you.”

“what you didn’t know the day you left was that I was trying to explain this dilemma. I was trying to express…I am wondering how to tell you that I was trying to walk away…if I need to, if you don’t love me.”

“I didn’t know. I didn’t know that.”

“I wasn’t crying because I was going to continue. I was crying because I was trying to say goodbye. And my letter…I was saying this, what I’m saying to you now. I don’t know what to do. Do you want me to stop saying I love you? Do you want me to go away?”

“no.” she holds on to my back. “I didn’t know. I thought you wanted a title. And I can’t do that again. But I wouldn’t still be here if I didn’t… I wouldn’t lie and try so hard to say you didn’t matter if you didn’t.”

“I know you love me M. you just don’t claim it. you don’t speak it.”

there is a pause until she says, “I love you too.”

longer pause

aaaaha ha…aahhhhhhhha ha…hhhhhh…hhhhhhhhhh the crying is also laughing.

“are you laughing at me!”

more noises, more laughing, more moaning in between, more tears

she touches my face, feeling tears. “Are you crying?”

no answer just this heaving of laughing and crying.

“My mother was right. you must be weird to like me.”

“In the Berber mountains, Abdelilah’s mother said that you can never tell when a lady is laughing or crying. A lady does both at the same time.”

this is what I’d like to remember


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