When you crack your knuckles, I imagine your fingers as falling dominoes. The hollow pop/pop/pop of cheap plastic connecting (because nothing is real anymore, and it hasn’t been for quite some time).
You want to sleep, so I let you sleep. I use the scratch marks on your back to tell myself stories. First you were a warrior, then an angel, and there was a difference — at least there was supposed to be. They all ended with your death.
There was a moment where I was young. I didn’t feel it. When I told you I painted dead trees, I didn’t mention their branches were my limbs; their old bark, my skin. That when you loved me, you shook my leaves off, and the wind did to me what wind will.
I gave you embers. I gave you lightning. I gave you things that sparked. I wanted you to have life crackling through your bones. I wanted you to never burn out. When I kissed you, I meant to give you fire, but I think it was only ash.
You pulled back.
Your tongue was gray.
I know very little about love. For all the letters and all the poems, I’ve only convinced the men before you that they were demigods, and I was nothing. That my organs were removed to make room for my worship. That my heart was meant to be eaten.
And maybe it was.
Maybe it is.
When you crack your knuckles, I imagine your fingers as falling dominoes. I picture you by the water. I think of the cheap plastic, how it breaks so easy, like your smile. You are not a demigod. You are a man. And you love me. But that never stopped me before.
First you will be a warrior.
Then you will be an angel.
Soon my body will empty out — you will fill every space, every crack, every corner. I will salt my heart for you as many have found it too sweet in all its sentimentality. And when you look in the mirror suddenly you will hear the clocks stop — your skin will be marble and your beauty unending.
And there will be me.
A rotting, dead tree.