we’re on vacation in the state of my university; it’s my mom, my mom’s friend (no identity), and me. we’re eating at a restaurant with a chinese owner, but it’s not chinese food. my mom and her friend hit it off with the owner and chat a lot, and at the end instead of a fortune cookie she bring a tennis racket, two tennis balls, two disposable cameras, and some other stuff. my mom talks a lot about how this is what good business looks like, all personal and whatnot.
I think about going swimming in the ocean, and suddenly somehow I’m transported via mind to the ocean (but not really, but it doesn’t even matter), and I’m watching all these people sell the ocean to me, dancing around in it and posing.
this is how I knew, definitively, how little I deserve him, and how lucky I am, and how ridiculously large my capacity to hurt him is:
here’s what I said:
I feel like you don’t actually love me but that you believe that you do, and I don’t know how to tell you that.
and then I continued, and as I continued, I watched, and I talked, and I saw: his eyes, reddening, improbably, impossibly: his lips turning down not in a frown but in open-mouthed grief, a shudder in his being and a crumble and I stopped talking and went to stop this thing, this thing that was happening, this thing that I had singlehandedly caused. — I can’t believe I made you feel like I don’t love you because I love you and I know it’s love because it’s there are the time and it’s so big and I can’t believe I don’t know how to show it and and and —
how selfish I had been, telling him this as if I was the only one who would hurt. it’s easy to forget that there are good people. in revolving my sorrow around his object, I forget that he’s there. I held his face in my hands.
we were quiet.
I believe you, I said.
because I cried?, he said.
no, I said.
yes, I thought. this bothered me up until right now, but really: yes; yes, because I need to see this; that he cares this much.
against the beat
pull against the music like
how did I go from:
flinching at his touch to:
because I finally made tears fall. I can see now
it is possible to comfort someone who has hurt
you and feel numb. to bring the hammer
down and instantly shush the wreckage back
into a whole; I have never seen him
as this: open mouth, desperate
eyes to the sky through monochrome
night — I take it back, I take it back —
you rock, squeeze, rock, breathe
squeeze your eyes, bury your face
into the tremble until it is absorbed
back into you and it is
better, it is
this being: this ball of serotonin, the swaying
laugh: you’ll be ok. the next morning had
good lighting. it was sunny.
crying is manipulative, I say.
honestly just keeping this here for my academic benefit
[excerpt from heidi hartmann’s “the unhappy marriage of marxism and feminism: towards a more progressive union” (1979)]
The mirror asks: how can this be, this bloom that became pity?
Stifle, the exhale.
This bloom became worry. This bloom became:
yield. Willful denial of self,
a smidge. Tuck the smile
behind the ear
clutches of soil. Thyme. Quiet.