I slobber. I suppose you know this in your ceaseless scrub-scrubbing of bedsheets, the pillows that dribble with drizzles of enzymes and undigested food, and the hair that holds prime nibbles and germs. Your mouth too, from my kisses.
It’s been a while since I’ve kissed you, and a while longer since my slurps have dipped onto a page. Before, gobs of me drooped easily. I liked it. Crunched up, eyes focused, blunting the edge of the pen with my blobs of black and blue. The erasing. Rewriting. Starting over. The ritual was a blessing that a spit-shine toss knows well: put a bit of yourself into it and you get more than yourself. Luckily, I got you.
And in turn, I guess, you got to display many of the public health disaster posters still wet with Kacper. I enjoyed looking at those starved boundaries of love, enjoyed walking in, seeing you, and seeing me wishing to see you. Writing was the closest I could be to you from afar. Each letter was break up and a new beginning. It’s why I wrote in an easy, loose conversation, as though we were – and are now – on a walk in a new place, you asking for my hand, me offering both stained and worn.
This was wrong for the usual reasons that describe an ordered world. Messiness gave way to ambiguity, laziness, claims of self-centeredness. They weren’t chronologies of us; they were eulogies. The showcase of cork, paper, and a few tacks was a taxidermist collection: stiff, dead, and glaring into the abyss forever. It was the stuffing of Kacper, no more.
You told me to stop writing. I couldn’t hear because I was scratching and scribbling. I spat harder. I gurgled ink. I horked paper. I washed in the warmest black, forming the shape of letters from bacteria, spittle, and whatever it was I ate the dinner before. What was left was a wad, a moist piece of toilet paper after a wipe. You told me again. Stop. I cut into my fingers, telling you how important it was for us to have us in us. My drool became rain. Tears too. This looks like vomit. Stop. More. More. More. Mess. Mess. Mess. Less, Kacper. Stop.
And though that command is the end of a telegram, one that could be answered if only there was the right machine, I did. I stopped. Soon, I wrote very little because you could read even less than that.
I remember the time as a silence, a gap between what was said and what could be said and what should be said. It felt like a failure of what I thought this relationship could be. It disappointed me. I was my best self by presenting my best self in all my worst self. Couldn’t there be more than the surface of slovenliness? Couldn’t she see it – the beyond, the bountiful, the thisness that flowed, that consumed, that mingled our beings? I did, right there. I even put it into words for us. Small words. Big words. I transcended by containing, found the limitless by creating limits – a letter for her, signed I.
But eventually things drove on because all things do, and I dried. My lips chapped. My saliva acidified. And those enzymes I sent your way in smooches on the letters, the ones I shared with you in an attempt to tame the self-created danger, ate away at my mouth. There was less and less Kacper to spew.
I can try to pretend this didn’t feel like the end of us, dear, but for a while it did. Though dramatic, I recall dreaming I was in the shadow of a giant tombstone. I was cold, alone, wondering what the front said. I moved into the sun while the light and dark conspired against me. I could hear them telling me to turn back. I shielded my eyes. I moved forward. Held the tomb to direct me. Found the corner. Turned, opened my eyes, and read nothing at all. It was blank.
I’m not one for Freudian mumbo-jumbo, mostly because when I slip I prefer it on bananas that are less than phallic and more smoothie in their consistency, but I thought that dream was important. Not for me, really. For us. What was there to say when nothing could be said? I was a fool bumbling with uhms and uhs, hoping they were enough, knowing they weren’t, wishing I had something else. I was blank.
Yet this was an immature interpretation at the least, a baby gargling through the Odyssey at worst. So too was my eschatological feint. I was blank, yes. We were blank, certainly. But this was wonderful.
Everything worthwhile unbalances your life. At first it destroys, unsettles, collapses. It makes you heave. It makes you hate it. It makes you hate yourself. And just when you think the agony will go on forever, it doesn’t, and you’re surprised at the absence of substance, of vitriol and discontent, and you’ll not know what to feel. Then, you’ll find something to grow into. Something you want. Something that may want you all the same.
The time of stillness between us was one of those moments. There was nothing to scrawl. I did not need to write a letter. I was one. I was the best letter I could give. You needed only open and close me with a kiss.
Now, we find ourselves in the same precipice of balance. This is not to say we should balance. Hardly. Balance is a bore. A tightrope artist is only exciting when they fall. Look how they fly.
And look how we have fallen, and how we can fly as a result. I don’t know how we will yet. But I believe we can invent a way. Maybe one letter at a time. Maybe not. Either way, how unbalanced. How alive. How thrilling that after two years and ten months, we can fill in the blankness together, we can spit over the edge we find ourselves, and we can see what it looks like when our drool mixes.
Love you madly,
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