“I love you

the way water loves.

Which is to say

I wish the world

Were through with you,…”

—J. Neil Carmelo Garcia, “Gift, 2”

I must warn you that I only write about the dead:

The washed up carcass of a whale,

or the calcified corals edging the sand

with every ebb and flow of water’s

hurtling blow, or a mermaid’s graying lock

of hair knotted into a shell, this pendant

dangling limply around my neck,

My ink will only trace the last few

tones of light that tried to calm the waves

before your fingers brushed my lips.

The paper only sees the shadows’

white curve before night sounds scalp

And strangle gulls to their last shriek.

And I own these words to reassemble,

to keep still what long was letting go

with every second’s spent breath.

So when I write about you,

it is only to bid you farewell,

to gather what I can not keep,

to rearrange your skeleton

in a heap. Ignite this pyre and watch

Your bones crackle in the heat.

To breathe against your neck

or what remains of it, recipes

of nights that should have been,

of what mint and wine

could do to cold, white skin.

And then to call for water’s lapping end,

to wash, to let it rob the shores of your ash,

to help me re-invent the gaps of memory,

each ripple bound and folded in the sea.

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