CODY LA VADA
I was only a shadow when I first saw you across the bar; you barely noticed
as I marveled at your face, softly blurring in the neon-dark.
The bitter sting of two-hundred-proof tears lodged in my throat.
You grinned into your glass, grew drunk on your own reflection.
I made several pilgrimages to the bathroom, neurotically
checking my image in the glass, powdering my face, rehearsing the things I would say -
but love is a language I cannot navigate; I speak only in desire and obsession,
the yearning gnaw of want, as of a seed that longs to bloom in a fallow field.
You smoked your cigarette, casting away embers the way one might
shoo away the unwanted affection of a past lover. I sat on the curb, cradling
my stillborn attempts at conversation, counting the striations in your iris,
constructing my own zodiac with the constellation of moles on your bicep,
but nothing could distract me.
My loneliness is a contusion the size and shape of your knuckles.
I broke into your apartment and left a helix of my hair on your pillow.
I chiseled your name into the marble of my thigh with a heated paper clip
as I got high and imagined our limbs tangling like the knots
in an erotic asphyxiation victim’s noose.
I put the joint out on my wrist and didn’t feel a thing.
When you kissed me, it was only so that you could drink your own reflection
from the twin streams of my eyes.
I wanted to pluck them out like pearls, string a necklace with them.
I watched as you toppled to your death,
dropping deeper in love with your own image.
I let you drown, watched as the black, toothless gums of the earth swallowed you.
Once a year, I visit this bar and order your favorite drink while I sit alone in back.
I document my changing face in the liquor’s ebb and flow,
dip my fingers into the gleam of my own reflection.
When I open my mouth, a single narcissus rests on my tongue
and you taste like the newsprint on yesterday’s paper.