I keep coming back to that day by the pool
when I was little and it seemed like an ocean to me.
And how hairspray made you look
bigger than you really were,
and your nails so red I thought if I put my tongue
to one it would taste like a cherry.
I keep coming back to when you told me so sadly,
but with much assurance-
Life without love is nothing.
It’s a memory.
But it’s also a dream.
And there’s no way of knowing
that it really happened.
Except that it did.
I’m caught on it,
on those trees that hung on our words
as if they too were listening.
I can’t get it out of my head,
but I also don’t want it to leave me alone.
And I’m sure mother will soon bring
the watermelons out for us.
After my boyfriend in high school gave me a hickey,
you asked me why he was biting me.
And we laughed, but then you got serious and told me
you never knew what sex was.
It was never a beautiful thing for you,
you said you didn’t love my grandfather.
He was your cousin, a brother really,
and there is no passion in that.
I saw in your eyes then that
all you perhaps had wanted in life
was someone to want you enough
to suck all the love out from inside you.
When you still remembered things
I wish I’d asked more questions.
But still I’m caught on that day.
I keep coming back to it as if
by the broken tiles of that pool,
near the jagged rocks that lined the edge,
somewhere in the deep end
are the answers I’ve been looking for.
A way of understanding you and what love is,
and what it means to remember,
and how easy to forget.
I close my eyes, dive inside, and
reach my hands out,
blindly touch the surface of
the things you taught me long ago.