a girl falls in love with the ocean
(After Sarah Kay’s “Postcards”)
I had already fallen in love with too much water, when you showed up out of nowhere, heart full of flood, mouth full of ocean. You kissed me, and that was it. I stopped looking for the shoreline, and I can’t tell you the last time I did that. I can float here for days or find my way to the bottom—both equally safe. Is there a word for arrival that feels like the word home? If there is, it is made of a bird’s wings, the smell of dirt in spring, the crisp smell of a fire burning on a cold night. If there is, I’ve seen it in your smile.
I keep waiting to take one breath too many, to let in what should be kept out, to be overwhelmed by it. But it doesn’t happen. I’ve started to forget what pain tastes like, the metallic aftertaste, the way grief always finds the bathroom floor, how nothing’s ever as clean as it should be. I stopped counting the awkward tick of my own heart. I used to think it was proof of life, but it’s only living if you are brave enough to share it. Here, look: I’ve got something in my hand. Sorry about the mess. I’m not one to be afraid of it. I know other people are. Still, look: red’s always been my color.
Is there a word for yes that feels like warm blankets, a deep kiss, the lingering of fingers on hipbones? There are a thousand rivers underneath my skin, and each of them are looking for you. There is purpose in the current, but I know it holds too many secrets. There’s always something living underneath the surface. Would you wade in anyway, not knowing what it is?
I don’t know what to call this. There’s no way to dam it. All I know is I love the undercurrent of your laugh, the way I can picture you in a room, even when you’re not here. Come, paint the ocean on my back. Say it’s a map. Say it’s a lighthouse. Say you can find me, even in the dark.