1. peppery nasturtiums picked fresh
from your front porch, creamy green
and buttery, you fed them to me. it was the best
soup I ever had. delicious.
it sat like a stone in my stomach afterward.
2. you are still wearing your
six hundred dollar black overcoat
when you fall to the floor and puke.
it sinks into your carpet and your face
and I grab you up by the lapels, shrieking
get up, get up. I remember when throwing
up used to bother me. but now I have
3. you are making dinner when I find
the messages you barely bothered to hide.
you've been telling her I'm gentle.
you've been telling her she is the one
you really love. but I am here,
and she's not.
I break up with you, but not before
devouring the shrimp with beurre blanc.
I am not a monster.
4. six of us in a smokey basement.
you still have your lip piercing. we
are on either end of the couch, staring at each other
while my boyfriend plays with my hair.
I have a dream that you give me the loveliest
kiss in the world. later, the playground that would
hold our first real kiss like a breath is torn down
and replaced. somehow appropriate.
5. Christmas eve and too much too much wine.
I go to the bathroom to throw up,
but don't. you cover me with a blanket.
Daniel is downstairs dancing to the record
player and yelling. I am curled on the floor
when you stagger in, yank up the lid, puke.
the world becomes a lurid hallucination.
It is six in the morning when I get home.
My mom is frying bacon in a pan, and crying.
I tell her I fell asleep. I didn't.
6. come over, you slur.
where are you?
at Mom's, you say.
Are you drunk?
I'm puking blood. Mom doesn't believe me.
you say it's my fault. you say I stress you out.
I tell you, go to a hospital. I can't help you.
I'm not a doctor. no, you say. I want you here.
I tell you you don't deserve it. you're not
good for me. you treat me like shit.
you say, who have you been talking to?
did your friends tell you to say that?
they're not your friends. they'll turn on you.
you can't trust them.
you hang up on me.
7. I am halfway down the hill when the
board starts to shake. you told me if I ever
wore pads you'd kill me. I'm not and I fall and
land on my butt and then my chin scrapes along the
asphalt. I call you, can you come pick me up? I can't
stand and someone just called the cops on me because
I'm laying on this person's lawn and I can't stand at all.
in the hospital, my body is shaking the chair.
you look like shit, you say.
but you stay with me anyway.
8. we shuck oysters in your mother's sink, drop them
one by one in beer and gag them down. we ferment bread
for kvass, buy almond flour to make macarons. hunt wild
mushrooms for risotto, pick highbush cranberries to make
duck sauce. search the arboretum for paw paws and the
grocery stores for okra. your fridge is a science experiment.
sometimes you cook naked, one hand on your hip. we pick
mint for mojitos and do shots of homemade nocino, black as tar.
these are the times I love you most.
despite everything, it was never hard to love you.
but it was easiest then.
9. you are skeletal. your shoulders creep through
your skin and poke the air. your hips are sharp and hard.
it hurts to have sex with you.
I am so in love with you, I tell you you are beautiful anyway.
you hiss at me like an injured tomcat. on the days you drink,
which is every day,
you are just plain mean.
I wonder who it is, exactly, you really hate.
I wonder what happened to you. a million awful things.
does it matter anymore? your body shakes the bed in the morning.
the toilet water is red. you can't pee.
this is the bottom of everything.
10. you are staring at me through the window under a halo
of cigar smoke. I remember how you stared because your love for me
came in quick bursts, like coughs, sudden and then forgotten.
you never cared about blood when you loved me.
I cut my thumb slicing onions and you sucked it in your mouth,
gently brushing the tears off my cheeks. one night I fell
and skinned my knee and you kissed the blood away before
patching the hole with a band-aid.
after you finished loving me,
your cat dragged his claws down my face til the skin split.
you laughed. you deserve it, you said.
I still have the scar.