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On Sunday we walked along Independence
until we met the water -
that's always how it is with you,
not satisfied until we've found
that place where we are small
against the waves.

We forced ourselves through
a sea of tourists,
pretended we were not like them.
I pushed by a woman with a stroller.
A couple with a selfie stick.
I was focused on the end.

We walked on a runway of petals,
walked under a stark-white canopy -
the cherry blossoms were lighter than usual.

I kept my eyes directly ahead.

We paused twice (I counted).
You said we should.
We looked out to the water,
the monument,
saw the current in front of us
felt the current behind us
of the people we were
so adamantly not.
We continued on.
I hate taking pictures with faces.

On Sunday I wanted to stop
and tell you
everything I could not say.
But we both know I am awful
with the spoken word.

You see I count the hours
like an odd-petaled flower -
in 'he loves me'
and 'he loves me nots.'
I am a victim of a cold environment -
I am not used to sunny outlooks.

It is Monday and I want to tell you
that I didn't count the petals

On Sunday I will grab your hand.

On Sunday I will look up.

On Sunday I will tell you
all I want is the water.
and you.
On Tuesdays I dream of moon-soaked swims among bay-big moons
Silver saucered jellyfish that ripple through our hands
Wednesday nights are underground-
Straight whiskey at the Cantab beneath a canopy of Marlboros and Parliaments
(I’m imagining the cigarettes-
I’ve always romanticized death)
I only think of Sunfish on Thursdays,
Just a single sheet and us and the water
And the thought that we are propelled by more
Than the wind and less than physics.
Fridays are midnight walks through Central Square-
That tree on JFK by the metal gate,
The cab I chased after. Your jacket.
I awake early on Saturdays to your blue wall
And freshly made yerba, lectures on nonlinear differentials.
On Sundays we sleep late,
Wrapped in sub-letted sheets
Waiting for your lease to end before Sunday does.
The ground is gone on Mondays, the sidewalk on Sydney street has crumbled
I feel first-trimester-morning-sick
And the sky is dinosaur-ending dark, thick with resentment.

On Tuesdays I dream of moon-soaked swims among bay-big moons
Silver saucered jellyfish that ripple through our hands
We threw our voices into darkness
Expecting a response
Getting only echos
Fell in love with stars
Already dead
Red giants make for disappointing soulmates
We are on a galactic level of
“Wrong place, wrong time” of
“if only’s”
I am running as fast as I can
But I will be
Five hundred thousand years late for dinner
Awoke Sunday morning
To words that were easier
Than the night before.
I was always expecting good
To be harder than good

I asked you for a
Four-letter-word-for “very often”
You asked me to
Pass the salt
You didn’t know.
I slid it across the table.

Sunday morning was without
Saturday night-forced structures
It was without
Long answers to questions
That we weren't sure if they were
As complicated as they seemed.

Sunday morning left us with an answer for
23-down and
For 68-across
Saturday night we were a defeated blank
We were
An empty grid
Save a four-letter-word
For nothing
In tennis.
On Tuesday morning the report said
Los Angeles was beyond the heat wave
the meter had run out
and you turned back to a pack of Camel’s
after avoiding them for seven months and nine days
wreaking of olives and tanqueray
I was without mascara
it had been towed inside of your ’96 Civic
we walked around the morning streets
looking for beer and a way
to go back to before the street cleaners
took away your ’96 Civic and you
lit that first cigarette
We’ll do this right one day,
you said between drags of that first cigarette
I tried to get you to put them away
but we knew it was too late
One day in San Francisco
we were too young to be nostalgic
and yet we looked North
beyond the impound lot
with anticipation towards
milder weather
looked back at the ’96 Civic
being led out past the gate
looked down at the third Camel
between your second and third fingers
with regret I watched it fall to the sidewalk
I wanted to stamp it out
but instead watched the cherry burn
until only the filter remained
and the wind brought it to the space
in between two concrete slabs
we got inside your ’96 Civic
drove South along the freeway
you lit a fourth cigarette
gave a fifth to a homeless man
along the freeway
we listened to wordless music
with windows rolled down
you asked me what I was thinking
thought against telling you I
was already waiting for
cooler weather in San Francisco.
We met at noon between picnic tables and humid Maryland heat.
Either you or the sun made me dizzy, as I talked and you nodded.
We were both distracted by the thought of air-conditioning.

We parted in August among mini-vans and goodbye kisses.
My eyes followed the license plate as you drove away, we agreed to sail catamarans the next chance we had.
We had both noted there was something in the water that summer, something purer than the water from the Chesapeake.

We rejoined in December under a Caribbean sun, not as humid as Maryland’s, surrounded by water purer than the Chesapeake.
There was still a buzz around us, like the air before a Maryland heat storm, to convince us the year of letters was not for naught.

We fell back to old habits on the Dutch side of Saint Martin.
We talked like the future was a choice and we had opted out.
We avoided words like regret and yesterday and repeated words like now, now, now and we spoke in hypotheticals.
We planned our house, or what it would be if we ever got boring enough to say words like tomorrow.

We stopped speaking in July after one thousand four hundred days of avoiding the next.
We should have known we were doomed to fail when “our song” was by Old ***** ******* and “our house” didn’t include a family room.
We should have known when our plans never involved the word tomorrow.
I went to a presentation last week, the topic, “We Are Losing Our Young Men.”

The speaker talked about how boys these days are growing up without the thirst for first place, they're becoming complacent with second, that they're now crying in baseball. That men today are just not what they used to be.

I almost raised my hand, almost asked about today's young women, where they are, what type of state are they in, how do they compare to my mother's generation, hell even his mother’s generation.

I almost raised my hand, but didn't, I realized I didn’t care what he had to say. I got caught up in a film-reel of Disney classics and Mother Goose picture books read over a soundtrack of, “What do you want to be when you grow up? What do you want to be when you grown up?” stuck skipping.

I thought about the first things we teach young girls, what they dream about before going to bed, the role models we give them. We tell them they can all be princesses and to dream of fairy godmothers. We give them Cinderella, tell them there's no hardship a rich husband can't solve. We give them Belle-Beast relationships, and we fail to mention that if a man is an animal, do not kiss him harder or love him longer, you leave and don’t go back no matter how much he says he’s changed. We show them Snow White, teach them men will only love them for their beauty, teach them women will hate them for it. We give them Ariel, encourage them to give up their passions and talents and family to the first guy that promises them love. We give them Prince Charming rescues, kisses that awake them from eternal sleep. We do not tell them when they should become wary of slick mouths with a penchant for vulnerable women. I guess they're meant to figure it out on their own.
And we wonder why society is obsessed with the Kardashians.

The film reel stopped. I wanted to raise my hand then, wanted to give this pompous speaker my own two cents and tell him I’m not totally buying this whole “earnest, honest, father like figure” who wants us to “seize our potential” act. His talk has been aimed at the fraternity men that paid him to be here.
He’s smart.
I want to raise my hand and address my fellow “modern women,” but when I turned there were only six females in attendance. So that’s why the joke about his wife got such a poor response.

Had they been there I would have stood on my chair and told them this- One day we’ll be mothers, raising little girls of our own. Throw away your fairy tales and grab yourself a cookbook. Sit down at the edge of the bed and open to the dog-eared page. Tell them, “yes, you are made of sugar and all things nice, but you have this inside of you,” and point her to the bay leaves. Tell her how she has traveled from Russia to India to France. Give her black mustard, perfume made with caraway. Teach her the history of chicory, its medicine, its bitterness. Give her licorice. Give her tarragon. Show the vanilla that runs through her veins, the lavender. Teach her wasabi and her ability to make men weak from her strength. Paint her lips red in celebration of cayenne. Make her a *** of puttanesca, have her taste the oregano, the parsley. Tell her about the recipe for the rub of a pork shoulder that’s been guarded for generations. The black pepper, the white pepper, the cumin. Celebrate her complexity, the bitterness paired with sweet, the anise and marjarom, the cayenne, who cannot help but cry at the overpoweringness of cayenne. Show her the history of nutmeg, her trek through the Sudan, Egypt, Italy. Give her the religions she spread, the languages she introduced to India. Show her the slaves that worked for her discovery, the passages she created. Give her the empires she built, the ones she flattened.

Tear down the castles and open the spice drawer.
Paint her lips cayenne.
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