Spent an evening smashing holes in the walls you’d fixed, and smoothed with filler. Waited for the dawn to discover the bones of this house now naked of plaster. Wondered if I looked as broken, beneath. If I would catch light just as quickly.
So it started with a broken laptop. Or maybe it started with your brother, pointing you towards a target, that wasn’t me by any means, but I was somewhere on the other side of it. Or maybe it started with an offer made to my Grandfather, which he passed onto my mother and her new husband. Or maybe it started with a newspaper ad, Welshmen need not apply. Or maybe it started in Ireland, with a broken engagement and a ferry ticket. Or maybe we are so far from the start there is no point loosing myself on the path back to it. The sun rose again, and the weather changed its tune but that’s not the start.
I braided a basket of my fingers, in case I was required to catch you if you fell from any sort of height or perhaps needed a boost to reach a shelf or a step on a ladder I could hold once I’d unwoven these hands to grip the rungs better if you eventually decide to climb.
Some days I don’t need a husband I need scaffolding. So I can tend to the broken, the busted windows the cracking paint, the guttering that doesn’t drain when the rain comes in and all the sediment circling the drain but never quite clearing. Some days I need that from you, and nothing more.
Does it count as taking your time, pausing between each item fingers on clasps, heartbeat a tempo dancing beneath the skin in a skip, skip rhythm I felt against my breastbone. Slid my foot along the seat of a chair like the one I sat in, bare skin cold against the plastic. Counted the buttons, two, four, six, stopped when they ran out and fabric hung loose from my shoulders. Open. Parted my thighs the same, slow, or maybe fast, the motion of it blurred in memory distracted by your face close to mine. Open mouthed. Kissed you, slowly. Open legs. I won’t say what we did next.
Placed you up, out of reach, where you could be loved like an object. Perfect. Worshipped your tears and howls, as you begged for freedom.
I’ve kept all the pieces of you that I could find. Stored them safely, wrapped away in a box somewhere hidden and warm, until I can remember how the puzzle goes and slot you back into yourself, a little more fragile perhaps but whole again.
I looked up what ivy was supposed to represent, after we called the man with the poison to clear the wooden fence panel right to the root. This creeping plant, that works its way between the cracks, and closes its fist so slowly, so quietly, that you cannot see the brickwork break, it’s supposed to represent friendship. I thought about you then, how I’d failed to see how deep you’d planted yourself until the moment that you cracked me clean in half. Like ivy, you keep coming back no matter the cold or the drought, there is no prying those tendrils loose, no poison that will make this shadow of you wither. I must live with the damage you have caused. I must somehow learn how not to crumble.
My mother taped mittens to my wrists, that made my hands sweat into wet worms without purchase. She told me that you were dangerous but by then I was older, knew how to sink my claws in, and to give in to the itch.
I do not love you like the ocean, I’m much too scared of drowning. Instead I love you like a battered paperback, small enough to pocket on walks from dorm rooms to lecture halls. I love like the blanket my housemate bought me, too pink to be polite but a soft cucoon against my skin warm on cold winter nights. I love you like anything that can be forgotten tucked away or to one side, but hangs around in the quiet moments still very much alive. I do not love you like life itself, but I love you a little like breath. In the same way that I do not think about it, in the same way that to not would be nonsense in the same way that I don’t know how to stop without the pressure in my chest building to a point where I think I might shatter me pieces. I suppose I love you a little like breathing. I do not love you like the ocean though. With you I have never …