“Almost” is the longest word in the english language with all letters in alphabetical order. It’s also the edge of every atmosphere, the thing that separates the earth from the moon, and the truth from every lie I’ve ever told you. It’s 2015 again, I find myself cratering at my own insecurities, blaming them on you. Feeling the pull, the waves of other women. How they will never feel as ocean as you did. How I convinced myself otherwise.
It’s 2015 again. New girl, brown skin, black hair, not you, is asking me how long I’ve been blind in one eye; how I can operate that way. I tell her you never know what you are missing when you’ve never had it. How easy it is to let things go when you’ve never seen what they look like. Before you, love was always a crutch word, things that we say all too often. And then it wasn’t. And then we weren’t.
They say “I am” is the shortest complete sentence in english. I have never been that sure about anything. Never been less than zombie stiff about any of the decisions I’ve made. Have always been fine with the uncertainty that comes with casketing our feelings and laying them to rest in one another. But you, love, have always been steel beam, hieroglyph, gravestone, the permanent things. The things that have always made me afraid.
They say no piece of square paper can be folded in half more than seven times. I am the thickest page in your notebook and somehow I’ve mastered the art of taking up so little room. It’s 2015 again, and you’re folding into yourself as we talk. I say things like, “maybe,” “soon,” “not now,” words that already have creases in them, already let you know how fast I can be at tucking things away to be ignored, to collect pocket lint, dust and resentment.
It’s 2015, again, when I finally admit that I have been running away from you, when I finally apologize for blaming you for things that I did, when I admit that I am still in love with the whole of you. These are ghost words. They haunt the corners of your teeth and do nothing, yet still expect the world of you. Even when they don’t deserve it. Even when I don’t deserve you.
Ryan J. is a poet based in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a 2018 Cave Canem Fellow, and is a winner of the 2018 Blackberry Peach Prize from the National Federation of State Poetry Societies. He is currently working on finishing his second chapbook, “In Spite of Years of Silence.”