The moon is full tonight. You may think she is full for you, but she has no interest in you, silly fox. You don’t own the moon. She belongs to me; I, and I alone, am her guardian.
I bet you’re wondering why I always call you a fox. It suits your nature. I know now that you’re more of a trickster than you first let on.
I am not Aphrodite, I know; my hair does not trail to my waist, and my body curves more than you would like it to. I am more like my moon. Still, I would have done anything to be yours. I thought of starving myself, to morph into one of those birdgirls with fragile bones that you adore, but I guess I was never meant to have wings. Instead I was given a bow and arrows by my father. I shoot those things with wings now.
I thought you could be my Orion, once. I’d have shared my forests and hills with you, my wilderness, my own private hunting grounds. But you are not an archer, no matter what your birthdate says. I am the archer. I need an equal, another hunter, to share my days with. And you? You are not my equal. You’re my prey.
I think I can make room for one more pelt on my hunting belt. I think a ginger pelt would hang nicely.
I pull card after card from the deck. There is no fox present, and for this I am glad. My little doe gazes up at me, the daughter of pentacles, but I am not made of earth. I am not grounded. I am made up of water, much more than the average percentage found in the human body. I am comprised of so much water that I’m almost drowning in it. There’s only a little bit of air thrown into my system to keep me afloat, enough air to keep me breathing, but only just.
A deer skull stares at me from my neighbor’s yard; its nonexistant eyes seem to follow me with every step I take. I think it’s grinning at me. Birds peck at the remaining bits of meat that cling to it. This seems oddly fitting to me, at the moment. This applies to my life. Would you nip at it as well if you were here, my renard? I think you would. You always did like to take advantage of the misfortune of others. You always liked to feed on the downtrodden. I bet you’d pick my bones clean if you had the chance. You’d be grinning as you did it too.
My neighbor told me last evening that the pine trees on my property were planted to honor the births of the previous owners’ children. These pines are hardy trees; they have survived over forty years of northeastern winters and countless other storms, and continue to prosper all these years later. Looking at these trees, I wonder about the previous owners, who I never met. Does their love for their children still grow with every passing year, much like the trees they planted for them continue to live on? Or did their love fail to take root, and has since withered away and been chopped down? Did some disaster knock it over while it was in its prime? I hope that isn’t the case. I hope it continues to grow.
Now, when I look at these trees, I hope that there is someone out there who is capable of loving me as much as those parents loved their children the day they dug into the earth and placed seeds there carefully. There must be someone out there, ready to lay down their roots and begin a new life with me. I wonder what our tree of love will be like. Will we allow others to benefit from our love? Shall we allow squirrels to scavenge for sustenance as they scuttle up our trunk? Will we let other critters benefit from the fruits of our labor? Will birds build nests in our branches, and nurse their young amidst them? Will all sorts of flora and fauna frolic around us? Will others gaze at the blossoms that bloom on us and exclaim how beautiful they are? When the rain washes over us, when the wind embraces us, when the sun shines down on us, will we truly feel God’s love for us in those moments?
I believe our love will be so powerful that it will sow the seeds to grow an entire orchard, an orchard that will continue to nurture others long after we’ve left this earth. At that time, we shall look down at our handiwork, and glow because we know that we have that much love within us. Our love built it all. Our love will grow forever.
It’s that time of year again; the Earth has made its annual revolution around the sun, and the summer constellations have returned to the night sky. It seems as though summer will always belong to you. When the cicadas sing their song it’s as though they’re providing a soundtrack to the memories of a love that just wasn’t meant to be.
Summer always brought the promise that perhaps now it was my turn. You were never together during the summer; really, there’s nothing worse than someone else’s skin sticking to you on a humid July evening. It was only when autumn resumed her monologue that you’d crawl back to each other. (Autumn belongs to you, too, but that is a tale best left to be told another time.) You’d live together in an uncomfortable arrangement, your dispute halted in the wake of winter’s approach. You’d hibernate together, nestled close to share the warmth. It was purely out of survival. When summer returned once more, you’d leave one another in hopes in finding a better mate. You never managed to, though, and you’d resignedly return to each other to weather another winter.
Meanwhile, there was a girl lying underneath those summer stars, inhaling the sweet smell of woodsmoke and wasting every shooting star on you. Those wishes should have been fulfilled; after all, she is a child of early summer herself, born during a strawberry moon, born during the season when fawns and other summer children take their very first breaths on this earth together. Summer should have belonged to her.
The summer child listened to endless songs that he mentioned-they were never meant for her, but she listened anyway. (After all, I do spell it with a K.) She slept under those stars night after night, and she dreamed. She dreamed of strawberry-blonde girls with mischievous smiles waving at her as though they were the best of friends. She dreamed of meticulously painted lips and sundresses as soft as the summer wind. She saw those dresses dance in her dreams. They were dancing with him. Those dreams were more like nightmares, no matter how harmless they may seem.
She dreamed of tobacco-stained fingertips, and how those fingertips would feel trailing down her neck. She dreamed of quick conversations held in a dark corner while the band played on. She dreamed of when he didn’t disappoint her—-wait. That was always nothing more than a dream. She didn’t know which was worse, which damaged her more deeply-the dreams where he was in love with her, or the ones where he was in love with another. (It must be made clear, though, that the strawberry-blonde with knobbly knees was never the villain. It was you all along. She was as much of a victim as I am, as I have learned.)
The girl who lay under a blanket of stars continued to dream, and she dreamt deeply. In her dreams a storm rages on, with the winds whipping by her window wildly, causing the trees in her yard to tremble.
She had once loved summer thunderstorms; however, she likes them no longer. They remind her of the evening this story first began. They keep her awake when all she wants to do is sleep. But she cannot even take refuge in her sleep, for she continues to dream about him. Her dreams are nothing more but nightmares anymore, more so than when he was still around. So instead she lies awake, cowering under the covers and clutching her teddy tightly, wishing she had more than her stuffed companion to keep her safe from Thor’s fury. She’d rather a different pagan icon visited her during the evenings, but she doesn’t know of any patron saints of dreamless sleep to pray to. She imagines that the storm is him, his spirit, ripping through her mind like he tore through her heart; he only stuck around long enough to wreak havoc, and then he’d dissipated, with nothing but a trail of tears left behind to show he had ever been there. After the storm outside her window ends, the summer evening becomes calm once again. She can’t say the same about the storm in her dreams. It continues to rage on.
Autumn approaches once more, and I wonder what your life is like now. Who are you sharing your bed with this year? Who will be clinging to you for warmth this winter? Are you still searching for your idea of a perfect woman? If so, I have news for you. The dream girl doesn’t exist, love. (I don’t mean me, either, the girl stuck dreaming of you for who knows how long. I mean the girl who resides in your dreams.) You’re not going to find the perfect girl, because perfection is a myth. No one is perfect. You may find the right girl for you, but she won’t be perfect. Perhaps one night, you’ll dream again of that girl, and continue to chase her in your waking hours, but you’ll never catch her. She’s nothing more substantial than the smoke trailing from the end of your cigarette.
For now, we both seem to be stuck fighting our way out of our dreams. I hope that one day, you’ll learn to live in the present. I hope I’ll be able to as well. I’m certainly trying my hardest to, but it’s an ongoing battle. I just have to banish my idea of a perfect man, and it’s difficult when he still wears your face. I hope that one day, you’ll be nothing more than the fog that rises from the forest floor after a summer storm. It’ll just be easier that way, I promise you. All that will remain of you will be that fog, slowly ascending skyward to mingle with the summer stars.
The bruised boy.
The bruise on your eye had almost healed the last time I saw you. Your body was going through the motions, cleaning itself up and fixing the capillaries (those tiny vessels) that pump the blood from your heart to your skin. Your heart was still pumping, then.
When did it stop?
Why did it stop?
Why did you want it to stop?
When I first saw that bruise that rimmed your eye-I can’t remember whether it was the right or left eye, and I’m sorry for that-I laughed a little to myself, imagining what led to it blossoming across your eyelid in that way. It was probably a leftover from some drunken excursion. “Kids these days,” I thought, never mind the fact that we are (well, were) the same age. You probably got into a bar fight, or had a disagreement with a buddy at a party. Or maybe you got it playing lacrosse, some shit like that. How would I know? I didn’t even know you. You were just that cute kid from class. I figured you wore that bruise with pride. A battle scar. You made no effort to cover it up, all those weeks.
Now I think back on that bruise-
(which appears a shade darker in my mind every time I think on it)-
and wonder what really led to it-
and wonder whether it contributed to-
I do a lot of wondering. I wonder about the last time I saw you. It was before class, and you were just wandering the hallway. I almost said hi to you. I always wanted to talk to you, you know. “You’re in my next class, aren’t you? What did you think of that last book?” I had a ready-made conversation plan at hand, and yet-
I’m sorry I didn’t say hello that day.
I still think that maybe if someone said hello to you, that last day, maybe what took place after wouldn’t have happened. You might not have done it. You might still be here now. Maybe that would have been the only time we talked, or maybe not. I know I shouldn’t be thinking like this, that thinking like this will only make me feel guiltier, that thinking like this will drive me crazy, but it’s late/early and I can’t stop thinking about it, about you, all the same.
I didn’t even know you.
But I wish I did.
Entre chien et loup.
Picture an evening in early June, during that moment suspended between day and night. The golden hour. The French have an expression for this time of day-entre chien et loup-between dog and wolf. It’s an uncertain time; the low light plays tricks on your eyes, making it simply too easy to mistake a wolf for a dog. Oh, what a dangerous mistake to make.
But what of the fox? Le renard? Couldn’t he, too, be mistaken for a dog? They’re from the same family, after all. You could be walking home, feeling weary from a long day’s work, and in the hazy light dusk provides, you see a vague shape in the distance, something with a muzzle, a tail, four legs. It could just be the neighbor’s dog, the one that always seems to escape the confines of their backyard, but an uneasy feeling clings to your neck like a sheen of sweat. You’re unsure if it’s really a dog, or if it’s something else, something much wilder.
(Sometimes I think I see you, my dear renard. There have been a few times that I’ve mistaken someone across the room for you. They may have your gait, or their posture may resemble yours. It’s never you, of course, but my heart beats faster all the same.)
You can never be too sure during this hour that you know what you’re really seeing. Forget midnight; it’s those precious few minutes at sunset that should really be named the witching hour. That is when magic is really practiced. After all, you wouldn’t mistake a wolf (or a fox) for a dog in broad daylight, would you?
(You may mistake someone else for me someday, just as I have seen your ghost hovering at the edges of my eyesight. You always told me not to worry, that you’d haunt me from time to time. I guess you didn’t realize how true your words were when you spoke them. Maybe now I’ll haunt you as well.)
Do you remember that time you told me you were unable to write;
as the rain sashayed against the windows and God’s forked fire-tongue
scorched the land
and I denied that statement, proclaiming that I was a fan?
In truth, your words are empty and hollow.
The only noise that emits from them is the low, steady ring
of the rim of an empty glass of wine.
(“Alcohol is a terrible coping mechanism,” but you abuse it just the same.)
Your words are nothing more than purple prose, your mind is nothing more than a dime store thesaurus,
(the delicious onomatopoeia of the CRACK of your BACK notwithstanding)
You’re a story soul, trapped in a book for all time, and it isn’t even a good one.
Curious glances exchanged over frames of thick-rimmed glasses-
(“I’m a hopeless romantic with a
broken heart,” you said-)
as you watched her dance and spin around
(the knife in my back plunging further
into my flesh with each turn)
a Cheshire grin playing on her lips as she whispers sweet nothings into your ear
(around, around, around)
“There’s nothing to fear,” you said,
a rare smile spreading slowly
a c r o s s
Or was it 4?
you were leaving me.
I prolonged the conversation.
“I was just nervous,” I said.
“I’ll say hi next time,” I said.
(“Don’t leave me,” I didn’t say.)
“Do you promise?” you said.
“I’d pinky swear, but…”
and then you climbed out of your
truck and wrapped your pinky around
Like it meant something.
Like I meant something.
Like we were still kids,
and the greatest show of dedication
(besides a blood oath)
was to pinky swear.
I never meant anything.
I bet you regret making that pinky swear now.
I took it as I thought you intended it-
an actual promise.
And after that, as our various -ships
I clung to that silly promise,
that ridiculous pinky swear,
until that was all that was left.
You’ve always broken your promises to me.
But now I’m breaking the one I made to you.
After all, it was just a pinky swear.