from sandpaper tracing all of his highway point markers. He tells me that the feeling of dying comes,
not with every needle, but when he stops to listen to his mother’s heartbeat. He says he can count how many day’s he’s got left,
string them through his guitar, and play time like a con-artist. This does not worry me.
When my mother would pick up the pixie dust bottle and crawl into my bed late at night,
she exhaled nothing but dried flowers, exhaust fumes.
The best people in this world are the closest ones to death, she’d say.
We were given special instructions.
Ones mommy wants you to be strong enough to ignore.
On the morning of her death, there was purple.
I could see just where all the past lovers had gone digging for this treasure map. Her veins held up each shovel scar and rock grinder with pride.
Look at me; look at how I never disclosed your secrets.
Her body fought so hard to keep the whispers encased in stretch marks and green eyes
it decided to turn on itself; kill or be killed.
He always had one foot facing away from you like at any moment
the weight of his Doc Martens wouldn’t be enough to hold him down. He collected state signs,
stuffed yellow-dotted lines in hand sewn plaid pockets and always carried change.
He was wind chimes.
Everything about him said air, said vanish,
said constantly disappearing.
I suck down impossibilities like cigarettes,
let the ash sprinkle over every muscle of logic in my hands, till I am so bruised,
I am asked what has happened.
I cannot say that just last week, I was sitting in an empty bathtub,
trying so hard not to become my mother that I broke the bottle for blades.
We each cut lines.
His are powdered on bathroom tile, mine stain porcelain.
He treated life like the challenge of running fingers through flames, had an ax at the base of his wrist,
and my cymbal heartbeat of worry, turned forest fire,
has every song he ever sung,
but I forgot her voice a long time ago.
He stole my pistol throat, traded it for the belief
that carving promises into skin
can force accountability into fingerprints.
Denial is never more comfortable than in the spaces between your teeth.
My tongue wandered through the graveyard that was once his mouth. And now I am left to clutch the memory of a t-shirt,
I never had the nerve to steal,
and just because he never stopped singing, doesn’t mean he didn’t stop breathing.
Wind chimes are not meant to hold in air. And denial is never more comfortable than in the spaces between your teeth
Victoria Muzyk is a writer, editor, and social justice activist. She has spent 2017 driving across the United States and living in mountaintop tree houses in Vermont. Her writing can be found at IMAGEOUT and Strength of Doves. She is very proud of her Instagram: @secondstar2thewrite and her name is also a website: victoriamuzyk.com.