what do you say when an ex lover dies.
calling her an ex lover might be generous, because ex lover implies that i ever loved her, but neither of us knows if i did. trying to remember every moment with her in it. i think of almost sex in a hotel stairwell but hesitant to hold hands in sunlight, of her grinning inside every taco bell in our little city, of fish and latin and mountain dew and how much she loves graveyards.
how the first time we were naked, i mean really naked, we were parked off the path of the fountain city cemetery. neither of us knew how to love another girl. our bodies were complicated things we didn’t understand ourselves. we stayed inside each other until our legs grew stiff. left love marks like dogs pissing on their favorite tree. after, we sat with our backs against the curved stones and made circles in the dirt with our fingers. i imagined we were practicing for next time.
how it is easier to remember her in pieces – the frames through a needle eye. first: her nipples between thumb and forefinger, a pinch of salt; the only fat on her body beneath the skin of her cheeks, the corners of her smile melting like warm butter. then: her stomach dotted with tiny holes, bloody freckles as doorways for insulin; knees smeared with carpet burn.
how i wore a button down and learned to knot a tie, and she mentioned she prefers me in t-shirts. the next day, she kissed me against the English wing lockers for the first time. she smells like brown bag bananas left overnight. nobody stops to look, but everybody walks on the other side of the hallway. gym teacher shaped like a bowling ball sees us. wordlessly passes a boy and girl gagging on each others tongues. walks up to us. “Too much PDA,” he says. “no one wants to see that. go to class.” we have a hard time talking that night. i want to tell her that i want to see it, her. no wonder we have a hard time unwrapping the packages we come in.
how the last time we were together in a cemetery, the back of her hand outlined itself on my cheek. One ripped nail left a series of blood spots like stippling. she split in two in front of me: one licks the cut clean, rubs me dry with her fingers. the other uses teeth instead of tongue, bites like a scared dog.
she told me once she knew she’d die before she was thirty, so she needed to eat as much taco bell, listen to as much blake shelton, and get her hands on as many pretty girls as she could. she winked. i don’t remember now what I said. or maybe i choose not to.