“Buckingham” by Christine Angersola

Don’t tell me heartbreak can’t kill you.
All of those nights I didn’t sleep I studied the trim in your bedroom. How we squeezed each other so tightly we may as well have burst. (I suppose in a way we did.)

How it poured and we drove home late from Providence and I wouldn’t fall asleep. We went to Westerly the next day in the foggy cold and you brought me to Weekapaug for the first time (donuts and naps and birthday parties and the coziest I’ve ever been).

Watch Hill, you took me into the ocean and taught me to like the waves. (Why the hell didn’t I take any photographs? We were so happy and salty and sunburned and it was probably the best moment of my life so far.)

That time we fed chickens. That time you bought a surfboard. That time I told you about my scar. That time you kissed me in your living room during breakfast. And it’s funny how on the Fourth of July I said I wanted a future with you someday and you said “me too.”

I will never be able to wash you off my skin. I remember you dancing in the basement saying you were comfortable around me. I remember you holding my hand in the Jeep. Memory is my currency.

Felo de se.
Wax and wane and come what may.

Then on the day before Christmas Eve when we went to Newport and we stood on top of that cliff and I suddenly realized I was falling (for you.)

I remember the way our bodies fit together when we slept. I remember tracing your clavicle with my fingertips.
(I remember you pulling my hair.)
I remember Portland and Beacon Hill. I remember kissing on New Year’s. I remember opening you up like a box and your contents pouring out. I was not afraid of anything I saw.

I forget nothing.

My fingertips on light bulbs, I am impatient, but would have waited. I would have continued to learn you, slowly. Read you like something I didn’t want to finish. You could have stowed me away until you were ready. Put me in a cupboard under the stairs. A corner, like one reserved for dessert.

And I’m no Xerxes lashing the waves with chains. What happened? It must have been me.

In vain I could change, evolve, and improve until my nose bleeds. Practice, sacrifice, lift weights, exfoliate, hastily reform my tastes, and replace every childhood memory with a meta-post-modernist-Marxist theory for regurgitation in casual conversation.

I could try to fix myself until I’m blue in the face, abandon myself; seductively eat cheese, plan cleavage-based escapades to make you jealous, transform like Sandy at the end of Grease.

Does any sentient being deal with rejections well? You were a circle and I was a triangle. I hope to become a circle.

Don’t go ventriloquist, contortionist. Trust (is potent) and disappointment potentially more deadly than nightshade. But the next opportunity might fit you like a halo and life is a process of elimination, the terror of trial and error, they weren’t The One, that isn’t The Thing, you thought you had located and isolated meaning in. Finally, thank heavens it’s all over, found my magic patch of clover, my match, my batch my (you lose composure.)

And then the catch, the crash; are you sure the rewards are worth the plethora of thorns?

They were with you.

Bring your own bottle
Be your own boyfriend

What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Wish It Had, but here’s some spinster consolation; no earthly affection could be akin to mine for the ocean.

You drove me down to the sea; hedges and $5 bouquets.
A blanket on the quiet beach, a camera and a dog.
Beach roses and moss.
A lump had fallen off like a soft green hedgehog;
“The hedgehog’s dilemma; an analogy about the challenges of human intimacy… they must remain apart, as they cannot avoid hurting one another with their sharp spines.”

I know you will never be a stranger but I will always remember the freckles on your back and the scars on your arms and chest. The thin, crooked line of the rising sun. I will remember how you kissed me hard when you said goodbye.

Well, winged creatures throw up in each other’s mouths
Well, “Ring Around the Rosie” is about the Black Plague
Well, her pet anaconda wasn’t stretching out next to her out of affection,
It was sizing her up for digestion
And there’s no Pragma before Eros.

Christine Angersola is a left-handed only child.

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