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August 24th, 2004

01:59 am - 2 am, anger subsiding, alone at last
On the day that I decided I was over you: this.
And still it's only a reaction against someone I've perhaps always loved more
But you wouldn't have. He did.
Or you would have - but deception would have looked better on you.
It makes him look like a fool, and me a fool by association.

Cocourt I think I would have forgiven you anything.

I picture you in the desert, already gone.
I can't say that I actually fear your death:
You are invincible, how could you not be?
Meanwhile I am constantly fretting over his
He seems destined to burn out fast, whereas you --
Younger, more beautiful - certaintly set to be remembered more fondly:
You will last to old age, and perhaps we will meet someday like this:
Short, cropped gray hair, some medals - I don't know.
I think you would be enlightened and kind.

As we get older I can already feel him hating me
Unfortunately my own shortcomings prevent me from blaming him.

I told Leah about you last night:
She told me she already knew, that I'd made it obvious enough to the community at large.
It makes me think he must know, and forgive me
(because he knew you)
Or hate me, because you were his physical inverse and his character's parellel
And we are all so shallow, after all, aren't we?

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July 3rd, 2004

02:39 pm - anatomy of a shark attack
I had a dream about Wes last night, she says.

Oh? says her sister, not listening, at the wheel of the car.

Yeah, she says, and he was just the same. Exactly the same as he was when I left him.

But . . . the sister begins.

And happy to see me, she adds.

But we saw that photo, her sister reminds her. He looks different now. Remember?

I remember, she answers after a pause. But in my dream he was the same.

I've got to go to the bank, her sister says, flipping on the radio. Don't let me forget.

She presses her head against the passenger window and watches the town race backward against the car.

Oh, that all of our old lovers could remain in stasis for us, waiting.

She's tired of rediscovering them, changed.

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May 3rd, 2004

03:19 pm - to the ground
Cocourt, I thought I was free of you. The feeling of relief was pure and clean. I made a deal with the devil, allowed something to fall away. I thought it was my love, this longing - I thought I had cheated him. He had taken something that I wanted to lose.

And then you put your face in front of mine, and I fell to earth.

And I learned my punishment.

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April 18th, 2004

03:04 pm - drive by
She thinks of leaving. Once the idea might have thrilled her. Now she feels as if she has advanced knowledge of her kidnapping.

I'll be gone, she reminds him. He makes a face, tries to stir something out of her.

You can come see me, she says, without planning on it. She hadn't decided if she would say this. She can't stop herself. There it is.

I don't want to be a problem, he says. I don't want to cause problems for you.

He thinks himself a potential problem. She's touched, and flattened at his sincerity, his purity, his charity, his defeated posture, sitting there across from her.

In this moment she imagines that the hardest thing in all of these difficult days has been the thought of never seeing him again. Much later she begins to wonder if anyone else, for the rest of his life, could possibly love him this well, this selflessly, this certainly and this secretly.

The possibility that no one else ever will, that he will have had this and never have known, is far worse than the simple fear of her life without him.

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April 14th, 2004

02:50 pm - angels
To be walking home clutching my fortune, wind beating my hair about my face, laughing with him, glorious, chosen. (And oh, I loved him. I loved walking past him, in a sea of strangers, my supporter, as they called him. He looked so silly and sweet amongest the audience of parents, careful cameras flashing.)

To be laughing and walking, shoulders together, all at once no longer thinking of you, and to hear a small voice, to almost miss it in the wind.

To turn and follow his eyes upward, to the stone path that leads up over the road, and see you looking down at us, dwarfed by that giant camoflauge coat, hair unkept, defeated, reguarding us sadly.

To be caught in a moment when I was happy with what I have, by you, of course.

As usual, you leave me lingering on your serendipity in my life. Oh, Cocourt. I wanted to hold out my arms; I wanted you to dive down.

We would have caught you.

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March 31st, 2004

05:28 pm - everybody's gotta learn sometime
On Thursday she sits still and waits. Dressed down and heart hammering, she watches people filter through the doors. When he walks into the room she can't call out to him. He's with his friends. He stops and waves to a black girl standing near the wall. She's intimidated by the fact that he's friendly with other people. That he knows people here, while she's alone. She looks away. He sits in the back and she wills herself not to turn around. A fat girl from her class comes and takes the seat she had been saving for him, and tries to strike up a conversation. She wants to be polite but can't breathe. I should be accustomed to being betrayed, she tells herself.

Later that week he asks her if she was there; he claims he didn't see her. She resigns, resigns.

The next time they are together he is desparate. He piles himself onto the seat next to her, his arm hotly along the length of hers, though there is plenty of room for them to be apart. He asks again if she saw him that night. Again she tells him no. He tells her the number of times they've seen each other without meaning to. He tells her he'll skateboard under her window if she wants him to. He tells her he'll wait outside her door, joking, and she wishes that he would. When he comes to speak to her he leans down over her and bends around her shoulder, only slightly taller than she is, he stops just before pressing his cheek against hers, and hovers there.

They are apart. She considers him in every instant. Lying in bed with her husband, watching television on a lazy morning, she sees him lying between the two of them, neutral and welcome, dozing at her side. All she needs, she wants to scream, is his quiet proximity. All she needs is to turn her head and have him there, always.

Walking to work one morning she sees him walking just ahead of them. She slows her steps. They cannot meet. She says nothing to her husband, only watches him quietly from behind. He seems small and alone, and she wants to fly to him but she's hardly presentable, anyway. She needs hours to prepare for him, a week's time. It's the reason she has fled all of the accidental run-ins. Her husband is speaking, and she's watching, and just before he turns a corner ahead he looks back for a moment, knowing somehow, though they are a good distance away now. She is engulfed by the unintentional gesture of his acknowledgement, and can't respond to something her husband is asking her.

He is everywhere that day. Why? She thinks of him while sitting in class, and on the way home there he is, walking with a friend. His eyes light, and he says, 'Stop and talk to me,' and she does, though she wishes the friend wasn't there. There isn't anything to say - when has there been anything to say? - but they make small talk and smile at each other. Something about him looks different, less put together, and later she realizes that he didn't have any gel in his hair. She wants to go back, when she remembers this, and hold his face between her hands, looking.

In the middle of their conversation her husband walks up to them. His office is just behind this place where they've happened to meet. I should have stopped him last time, she thinks, crushed, I should have invited him up last time I saw him here, when we were alone. But instead she had run, scared. Now the moment is passing, and she must say goodbye. She won't see him for weeks. Someday she might not see him at all, again, ever. The idea crushes her. She says goodbye, walks away. What else can you do?

Later, in another class, the ghost of his name is written on the chalkboard. He has the same professor, in this same classroom, at an earlier hour. Why did he write his name on the board? It hardly matters. She can't think, staring at it. It's been erased, but the residue is still there. Her teacher writes notes over it. He writes the theme of a story over her boy's name. He draws a number one, circles it. He writes 'man and woman' and then 'desire.' He draws a number two, circles it. He writes 'baby,' meaning an infant. Finally he draws a three, circles it. In capitol letters he writes 'LOYALTY,' and then underlines it three times.

She sinks in her chair, again defeated.

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March 8th, 2004

11:11 am - wait: they don't love you like I love you
Cocourt, I thought I was sliding slowly and comfortably away from you, but when I looked up on Saturday and was faced with you, it was like being stabbed. I forget everytime we're apart that I love you, and then I see you, and there it is.

Again you talked about our eventual separation. Again we laughed about the efforts to keep us apart in the present. Again I loved you: again, though I had promised myself 'this is the last time.'

I dream of inviting you to Atlanta this summer. I dream of trucking you along with the two of us, though I'm not sure what your role would be. I dreamed of you last night, in my bed at home, and outside he was driving away in the snow. In the dream I chased after him and asked him to stay, though secretly I was counting the seconds, wondering when I could lean again at your side. I woke before returning.

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February 25th, 2004

05:42 pm - Men.
Damp at the end of the day, working on a glass of sake (the cheap kind, that we cook with), waiting for him to appear unenthusiastically with news of the impromptu baby, I think about all of my lovers, past, present and imaginary, meeting at a cocktail party.

Well, it would be late at night. Many of them would be drunk, working the room with a cool distance. Kevin would be there, flirting with the female bartender - or trying to and failing. He would be prematurely aged, somehow, like a cancer patient but with no real excuse. And fat, certainly, from a college career spent drinking, ungraduated. Beside him at the bar would be my darling Thomas, wearing a flight suit and freckles, perhaps the only one in the room willing to forgive me. Thomas would drink girly drinks, unembarrassed, and retire to dreams of flight when the conversation turned away from him. He would try to remember if the two of us ever had sex - because at the party the subject of my variable conquest is certainly a topic of interest.

Brett would be in a corner, speaking to no one and assuming, as we did, that no one is worth his time. Secretly he would be embarrassed and wondering about penis size, and though I never got a look I imagine it would be in vain. Steve would be sitting a bar table, lecturing to Marc and David, who listen patiently and think for the first time about socialism. Steve has a beard and truly believes that he is getting through to people, to these bourgeoisie men, though later they will go home and masturbate their minds back into routine.

Wes would attend, of course, and have a wonder at why all of my other lovers are so much older than he is. He would be quiet for the first half of the party, but then would become quickly smashed and begin spilling secrets with a giant grin. Hunter would listen with interest, hating me.

He and Cocourt would team up and snicker from alongside the wall. I've seen it before: they are strangely fit for each other. They would critique everyone else, and know that they measure longest, not considering each other, because why bother?

I would cancel at the last minute: I would be restless in a hotel somewhere, trying to decide whether to attend, tipping back sake as I am now, because oddly that's all that's in the wet bar. Maybe we're in Japan: yes, that would somehow make sense. I phone in and tell them I won't be around, and all but Thomas and Wes are relieved - even he and Shane smile a little, and go out together for beers, because that wasn't really their scene, anyway.

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February 24th, 2004

12:57 pm - country girl, Coke in hand, considering
So the world wipes her life aside and opens its hands, offering the mystery of everything asked for. And she stands before the smiling choices, hearing the tapping feet of loved ones and creditors, and puts a finger to her lips, waiting for a sign. She thinks of a freshman writing instructor who once spoke to her confidently about the rest of her life, and wants to put her faith in his certainty. She remembers that he had been hit by a car while riding his bicycle the semester before, that he had used a cane and had seemed fragile, a sort of warning that might have been missed. She stops longing for that faraway time and the cool trappings of this naive place, and secretly, silently revels in the last innocent moments of this glorious indecision.

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February 18th, 2004

04:45 pm - observe radio silence
-3. I walked away from you when you needed me, and I slid inside a safer door, thinking: Someone else will surely come. When they did - when I saw another's head darting quickly down to help you, I felt sad, because this was a concern that I did not have. Why had I walked away? What was I thinking?

-2. Later, I couldn't stand to be alone with myself, so I called out into the empty room for help. But no one came, or no one heard, not as I had heard and not come, but sincerely I was alone, and it was unbearable.

-1. Then he arrived in a car and took me away, into the night, and the relief of another person's static filled my ears, until we approached the supermarket and I remembered the sound you had made when you fell, and how I had abandoned you. I walked under glaring lights through aisles of juice boxes and ice cream and peas, past cans of beans and corn and processed meats, through rows of frozen pizzas, moving blindly and considering your whereabouts.

0. I did not sleep, but rather I woke, over and over again, remembering you on each cold trip to the bathroom. Remembering you - and me, and the way you had curled into the shape of a baby, helpless and left for dead by my shutting door.

1. (One) demon exorcised.

2. I ordered an Adrienne Rich collection in a flushed moment of academic chaos, because I felt I should have one, because I felt she should mean something to me as a woman and a scholar. But mostly I was thrown by the picture on the cover - impossibly I had pictured her beautiful, and young, maybe my age, a prodigy. But she was old and plain, as so many of us are by the time people begin to listen to us, and she was smiling for the portrait, which seemed contridictory.

3. Thinking of you in class, I pictured you in a bed under numerous blankets; I pictured a harried mother at your side spooning soup, your blond curls wilted but growing livelier, your cheeks red with renewal. I hope that this is where you are, though actually on the way home from class I thought I saw you, dressed just as you were yesterday, and looking at me with accusation, just as you did even before I had cause to act. I don't know if this was you or if I will simply see you everywhere from now on, but, either way, I turned in my path, embarrassed, eager to get away though you would not have known me.

10. Later tonight, on the 24 hour anniversary of a sad look at my soul, I will be toasting happiness with him and getting fatter, of course, and perhaps you will have a flash of memory, of the last thing you saw before you lost those minutes:

Me, walking toward you in the hall, offering nothing, disturbed by the candid way you crumbled to the ground, and leaving you to chance and kinder faces.

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