Do you fall asleep at night thinking about me? I fall asleep
thinking about you. About the way that when you laugh I can hear you even from
across a room. It feels like hearing a song that I can’t quite get the words to
but the beat, the rhythm is always on my tongue.
Sometimes when I’m halfway into dreams I’ll remember something
you said and think that I wish I could dream your voice. I think your voice
would be a city of trees. I think your voice would be a bookshop tucked into the
corner of a wall and filled up with every story that I’ve ever wanted to read.
I think you’re voice would be just like that coffee shop that I used to dream
about. The one where the drinks never spilled and the music was always my favorite
song and the light always felt as warm as your hands that time you accidentally
brushed against me.
And once I had a nightmare, well more than once, that I never
saw you again. You became foam on an ocean, you became ice that melted, you
became dust. I never wanted dust so much. Have I ever told you how much dust
used to scare me? My brother once told me that dust is composed primarily of
human skin. I thought of all those memories that people had shed away, all
those surfaces of scars lost. I thought of all that going into my lungs. And I
never wanted any of those memories and all those scars until I wanted you.
I was a child when I first dreamed of cities being eaten by
fire. Not a raging fire, not the kind that takes forests away in days. Not the
kind that erases all of those tattoos carved into tree trunks: initials
together until they’re not. It was a fire made of teeth, the flames a gaping
mouth. I was a child when I first thought that I understood fear.
I tell people that I don’t fear anything. Or I joke and say
silver fish or clowns or the nests made by gypsy moths. What I really fear is losing.
So I don’t get attached, I don’t make bets I cannot win, I don’t tell you
anything if it means that you might turn.
I used to imagine that I could see the spirits of trees. They
all looked different from one another. The one at the bottom of the valley, it
fell years later and I could hear it crash miles away, had a spirit like a
woman dancing. She swirled and dipped and beckoned to me. The weeping willow,
the one that the tornado tried to embrace, was a shadow shaped like a bird. I
tried to recreate it years later with my hands against my bedroom wall but it
never looked the same.
I wanted once to ask you if you ever got your palm read by anyone.
I wanted to read your life in your hands. I wanted to know that you’d live forever. I
didn’t ask because I didn’t want you to return the favor, to see the way that the
lines in my hands are already starting to fade. I sometimes watch them going
backwards, retreating away from me like skittish fish in a pond when I dipped
my toes in and the water felt so cool.
Cool as sheets after the window was open all day. Cool as
falling into sleep without you. Or maybe I mean to say cold.