the gift of space

jackson bliss
I thought love was a contract Serge, more faithful than death, more common than crushed insects on busy sidewalks, Id collapse on your chest, pretend you were plushy and overused like Ophelias sofa, a sofa in human form, a refuge of velour pillows, a place to sprawl my waifish arms, you were my favorite analogy, the one Id water with a serpentine hose, held with ancient hands covered in fertilized earth, an idea born in a flash of lip-biting conscience, from a compulsive fear of empty beds, extravagant dinners for couples, from the fusion of my own circuitry: the numbness wire, the lust wire, the emptiness wire, soldered together by self-doubt, by the straw men in baggy designer jeans, propelling their cold bodies within the folds of my abyss, their iceberg sweaters, smothering the agony of my breathless desire, as I imagined sleeping in dimly lit caves, where I could paint my prehistoric guilt with reed brushes, dipping freshly cut bamboo into the blood of wild bison, where I could take sugary naps in tall afternoons, I thought you loved me Serge, the way you were always leaving half-consumed birthday gifts around the apartment: the little box of Godiva chocolates, each truffle, half-eaten, our lips practically touching in each bite, I could practically feel your teeth in my mouth, imprinted in Orange and Kahlua spheres like fresh carbon fossils, and then, the stone leprechaun you dressed in drag the morning my agent had a heart attack, sporting a wonderwoman lace bra and Union Jack hot pants, those clumsy lipstick moon phases, a failed sobriety test of two crooked lines, caked on thin, unforgiving lips, my Twin Peaks wig, a Raspberry Slurpie of fake fibers, Venusian bangs prickling his bulbous forehead like limp claws, and a sign around the leprechauns neck that said Eat the Apples Honey, theyre getting Soft, you and your branch library of gifts, always half hidden, always lurking in eccentric space, between my bonsai tree and your stereo, on the last available bathtub corner not crammed with Epsom salts, florescent squishes, vitamin E vials of flower-powered body oils, on the second to last stair, on the blade of a ceiling fan, the one we used to slice the heavy air with, in our harem, when wed smoked the resin off our shoes and fuck on the shingled roof top, high on strange desire as the sky was peddling smuggled Lite Brights, Id discover your little presents taped to the doorknob, hanging from my one-strap chiffon teddy (the other strap, torn apart with your gnashing canines, a protest against the last frozen pizza Id burned), inside the cuffs of my yoga pants, placed inside a cored head of Chinese cabbage, you loved inventing new space for altars, always leaving love letters in mindful gaps, punctuating affection with serendipity, and I thought, because you wanted me to, that these gifts, so odd and thoughtful, so like you in form and structure, I thought these gifts told a story , they proved I wasnt an icon, or a distance slave, they told me you loved me despite myself, and when I came home, I searched for you in the corners of my apartment, my mouth, growing desperate, clamped down on mandarin orange wedges, half-eaten slices of lemon meringue, from that snickering bistro, where you slaved away like an overeducated poet, serving up skim caramel lattes to twitchy rock stars, these gifts you left me, they were bribes for the space I gave you, to create crossword puzzles out of my sock drawer, the space you used to create hints, vague clues for block letter flattery, the space you asked for in your sleep, to fill emptiness with objects, objects that proved you were clever and fluent with silence, and all this time I thought my absence was just a font, simply melting words of frozen resentment and lust, all this time, even when I was in the arms of other men who needed me in one hour capsules the way you couldnt, they loved the way my skin, like a militant china doll, blushed when I did lines off their stomach, as my tongue went below the equator, became Pentecostal, as the tingly blow raced through a throbbing body of hydraulics and nerve endings, became a subway map of synapses and fermented pleasures, this body wasnt mine anymore, it was too euphoric to be fallible, too stellar, too airy, to be grounded by monogamy, even then, even when, I was lost, I thought you were home, waiting for me, re-creating art with space, experimenting with the science of half-gifts, I thought you loved me, right until the morning I stumbled home, heavy from Alejandros thrusts, the first time, the first time he gave me an 8-ball just for smiling at him, his unapologetic legs pinning my mind down as hed held me on a shag carpet, raising up my skirt and fingering me, his hand in the shape of a gun, his imaginary barrel, covered in Colombian snow, and my mind, murky like a shallow pond, its surface, cutting into itself, reflecting the impaled sky like a matador, I thought you would still love me, at least until the next morning, at least until the sun was out, and then, one day, the first day the mountains came out to stretch in the crisp horizon, I came home, knocked on my own front door, I was a frame without a canvas, a skeleton of short-changed flesh, strutting on steps of smirking air, my skin was glistening, humming, like old appliances, my body felt sparkly, like the dress of a collapsed actress, and I was too glamorous and flimsy, too flushed with curt desire to be, real, I was a body, floating in the Hudson, a casualty of flesh, an uncommitted precept, a face abducted by billboard ads, assaulted by lonely catwalks, bum-rushed, gang-banged by camera flashes, a body stolen by West Hollywood grave diggers, a child soldier in the anarchy of VIP rooms, I was lost Serge, I thought you understood, hoped youd stay, even convinced myself it was an immutable law like the solitude of graves, like foreplay before overdose, I convinced myself we were a pact, until the day I stopped this game of hide-and-seek, until that day, that perfect, miserable day, when I walked into that tsunami of time, crashing down on mutinous shorelines, on smug beachcombers, until I saw the tiny glass particles that once belonged to a television screen, once a substitute for conversation, a one-way mirror of culture, now, just shattered microchip brains, a civil war of glass polygons, broadcasted through out the living room, and then, I saw the severed mannequin head, the dust cloud where the leprechaun once stood, a pile of body parts, like the Isle of Man flag, the Siamese toes underneath the couch, the plaster calf muscle resting on the coffee table, the hamstrings spread out on the floor, the eviscerated TV wires now a string of broken Christmas lights, the webbed metal fingers pointing to the door, the door where your feet marched in Common time, I thought space was a gift, that it could be given, that you could possess it, I thought you would always love me, would always understand that you were the only man who kissed my eyes, the only man who knew how to soothe my speedy crashes in rented limos, who knew that Monday-morning breakdowns were my coffee, you were the only man who touched my thin arms with your face, you were my sofa, a cushion for my exhausted afternoon dreams, like a dancer in the Geoffrey Ballet, one hand firmly on my waist, your head on my shoulders, holding my arms in position two extension as I laid there, sleeping in the profile of hotel silverware, trying to regain the sensation of fingers, to remember the heart sutra, that was the last day I heard your breath chanting to my skin, the day you left, like puberty, the day you packed your bags, and you know Serge, I meant to tell you, Id never shared genes with my lovers, my blood-dried lips stopped drinking decadent milk, that three months had transformed me from an objectified coke whore into a bleary-eyed Sycamore, a startled woman transformed by the commandments of biology, a woman whod sobbed when the doctor told her it wasnt a stomach ache at all, but your little legs, your spasms in my uterus, it was then, that I felt the power of space, the way it could shrink, the way my stomach could expand, like an urban legend, the way my body memorized your features, the way it held on to your bone structure, the softness of your fingers, just as I should have, just as I would have, if Id let myself feel pain then, inside this apartment where you once waited for me, in empty and fresh abandoned space, dotted lines for my perforated body, if I could have known that we were an idea, if I could have known anything except the smoggy purgatory of my inner world, if I could have known the space Id left you was the space Id need a compass for, a space without direction, the pleasure sucked dry like a drunk 7th grade blowjob, if I could have known, but I didnt, and now, now, Im suffocating in the places we once were, when you used to conspire with crevices, when we used to fill this apartment with vibrant sounds of scandal, with t-shirts ripped apart with crooked incisors, the allegretto of box springs, your sex grinding, twisting into my opening like a desperate key, crashing into me like a cymbal, the noise of headboards and bed frames playing chords against our bedroom walls, aspirated syllables of broken words, muttered like a throaty hallelujah, words, bleeding into lustful memories, lingering in my sheets like a collection of flesh poems, like a book of dried flowers, clinging to the smell of old hands.