By now you would think
That I would be well-practiced
In molding my body into
The shape of grief.
Yet I still struggle
To prepare a vessel
That can hold a
No one taught me
How to contain
My own past lives
Let alone yours.
Yet when I think of you
I am sunk between
Time’s crumbling teeth
Its rotting mouth.
Through the decay
I try to identify the moment
When you decided to end it all.
Is that what drew you to me?
The smell of my molding body
Wafting over masticated flesh?
Was I adorable carrion for you?
Or did you see something living
Between the cradle of my hips?
Signs of life furtive and ferocious
I have always been living and dead.
Is that what drew me to you?
When you arrived to me it felt
Like the end of a long pilgrimage
When faith gazes at the Gate of Wonder.
You approached my gate unfazed
At the young-blood rust that gathered
Around my hinges like snow in sepia
Weary from life’s openings and closings.
But you never unlatched my door
Instead you took out your camera
Pressed record, and waited to see
What cinema rises from rust.
On the final day you press stop
And show me the movie you made
Scenes move on and time lapses
You point out the signs of life you found within me.
Two men walk into a dive bar
And no one turns to look at us
Have you ever felt the relief that comes
From being unnoticed?
We sit at a table and practice time magic
Your age mellows my youth
My youth emboldens your age
We make a list of the things time gave us:
Bar nights (“time gave us this”)
Movies (“time gave us this too”)
Music (“this is what we give back to time”)
Each other (“yes”)
We finish our beers
We go to the bathroom
You look me in the eyes
“Jay, we have so much time.”
Clay, the opposite of assault
Is me lying in your arms
Clay, the opposite of self-harm
Is drinking whiskey and coffee beans with you.
Clay, the opposite of fear
Is the smoke signals from your cigarette
Clay the opposite of danger
Was meeting you and knowing your face.
Clay, the opposite of what time gives
Is what time takes away
But that is not a lesson for the living
It can only be taught from the mouth of a corpse.
When I mold my body into the shape of grief
I try hard to envision the pottery of a mouth
I thought the opposite of grief was you being alive
But now I know that’s not true.
The opposite of grief is remembering that you were always here.