The Best Executioner
For years I tried to write your name
and not the lie I always saw in it.
You were so lonely
the first time I let my fingers brush your cheek –
there was no dignity in it,
just foolish necessity. I hid my shame
behind my smile, buried it there
like a dead albatross. Sometimes,
I think I hear it calling, still.
I’m sure, by now, you’ve stopped thinking of me.
That can’t be you that just drove by.
That can’t be you standing in line at the supermarket.
That can’t be you –
can it? I wish to hell I could stop expecting
to see you; I wish to hell
my heart would stop conjuring your ghost.
For years I spoke your name
in secret, huddled in the dark of desire,
not ready to let the truth out,
not ready to expose myself,
no – not ready to share.
Funny, that. I was always so good at sharing.
Somehow, I know, I have made an enemy of time.
Time, it’s said, is the best executioner.
Time kills all things: people, memories, feelings.
Mine still pulse underneath my skin,
writhing reminders every time I draw breath.
I suspect this will be the thing that kills me:
loving too much, loving too well,
loving unwisely beyond all sense, tripping
down the edge of madness. Yes, I’ve
tasted madness too, a silhouette
of temptation sliding into being –
I know of kisses in corners
and parking lots, moments snatched
and held close (too close). I know the feeling
of goodbye and don’t go. I know
how your name tasted on my lips,
but I don’t know what it feels like
under my fingers.
I refuse to write your name.
I’d written it so often, so casually,
like a trusted habit; the letters hid your heart too well –
I can’t remember:
which of us is lonely now?