Poem(ish): Volatile

 I walk out of my favorite coffee shop and before my eyes walks this beautiful woman–swollen at the belly. I look to the man beside her, and your face rips through the barriers of my mind, emptying out the memories I’d purposefully hid away. And suddenly, the pain and heartbreak of letting you go comes back like cancer. 

 Toxicity is a powerful drug, and your hits made me higher than the atmosphere afforded. You left me a whirlwind of hopes and expectations,  unreasonable. Even now, with your careless and callous care of my heart, I can only pass the blame so far. 

 It’s foolish and selfish to believe you’d change and to believed you’d leave them for me when time after time again, your actions spoke Truth. But stupid little girls tell themselves it’s acceptable to be misused. Like a paddle board, you came and went, beating my heart with every reappearance. Blissfully unaware of my own delusions, I’d rock myself to sleep with the lullabies of, “This is fine. He loves me. He just shows it differently.”

 After all these years, I didn’t think it was possible to still mourn what we had and lost. But I mourn the pieces of me you took away. I mourn the little girl who loved you and the little girl who gave up everything waiting for your love, requited. 

 Only to receive it when you were gone and out of reach. Only to receive it when I moved on and you had a family of your own to love. I waited a lifetime for something so disappointing. “I love you. I always have.”

Liar. 

 You haunted my dreams and every love after yours, waiting for the chaos to fall and the gun to fire. The shape of my heart redefined, full but different–like a size-nine shoe print left from years of you walking all over me.

 It repaired after what I’d later refer to as “us.” But there was no such thing as Us. You were a figment of my desperation, and to you I was the fuel to your wounded soul. And somewhere we lost our humanity in the hopes that we might matter. After we parted, I found mine again. Where’s yours?

 You held my heart at gun point, but I your willing victim. Loving you mere feet away from certain peril, ready to destroy. I trusted you. I kissed that gun and made love to its sweet metal, until the day it fired and engulfed every part of who I was. Its powder still covers my should-be corpse like a blanket I pretend is Comfort. 

 I remember where I stood when I learned you finally planned your future, that you finally got brave and decided what you wanted—Under the presence of God in the church I grew up, in the church I believed I’d be married, and the marriage I believed between you and I.

 I looked over at you from what felt like a lifetime away, but really only separated by green velvet pews and church-goers. Your hand in hers and a ring on her finger. 

 Your mother whispered, “he finally proposed.” I nodded and mumble my congratulations—her only son, finally evolving into the man he long foretold but once refused to become–of course she beamed with pride. Of course she’d excitedly tell the family friend–the girl her son grew up with. She didn’t know, but how could she? She had no idea what she had done.

 I walked away and up to the front of the church and took my place in the choir. In shame, I whispered praises I didn’t deserve to utter. I inhaled at the right moments and I mouthed the right words. 

 But my eyes stung and my heart felt like stone, useless and heavy in my chest. I found you in the crowd and saw her sitting next to you. She glowed, but she didn’t know. How could she? She had no idea what you had done. 

 My mind flashed back to the month before–a warm November night–in my living room with the glow of Avatar on the TV and the soundtrack of my heavy breaths. I kissed your neck and you kissed my mouth. You proclaimed you needed me–couldn’t live without my deepest touch.

 And in December, standing on that stage in front of those worshippers, I knew I didn’t belong. Because where a love of God should have been, your soul filled mine instead. I had no idea, how could I? I had no idea what I had done. 

 Months later, I received the invitation to your wedding with bile in my throat that burned as it spewed from my mouth. My family went to bless your love, but I stayed behind. I couldn’t watch you lie. I couldn’t watch you vow promises I knew you couldn’t keep. Your blissful bride, she had no idea. How could she? She had no idea what we had done. 

 These are the memories that drown me as I watched you stand beside your wife, expecting another child, walking the downtown streets together. So I avert my eyes and rush to my car. Away from the coffee shop and away from the woman I once thought would be me.

  We were the secret you’d take to your grave, but I can’t live with your ghost anymore. It’s been years now since, and here I am writing you another poem.