Trace the Lines of My Veins With Your Fingertips (We Really Never Should Have Started)

Isabel Kim


Love is a violent slice sheathed in the silk-soft words,
the poems and stories that we might have told long ago,
sitting around a fire, they mingle with the dark ghosts
that lope around our ankles like footsteps.
Love is a ghost story and a myth,
a fairy tale that ends in separation from the sea, from the shore, ends with bubbling foam and whispers.
Ariel drowning.

They say if you stare across the wide expanse of the world
you’ll find someone staring back.
The abyss has a thousand eyes and maybe
you are a pair of them.

The heart is a hand-sized lump of muscle, pumping.

How long have you been waiting for your prince charming?
Picture the scene, the tower, the room inside
small and airy, a window where you stare
at the green land outside, the breeze so high up
and you are waiting.

and I am kissing you on a stage under the lamp-glare of spotlight,
you in the polyester dress and I in a costume-suit
falling apart at the seams.
You taste like foundation and lip gloss and mint.
Our teeth clack once, twice,
and we part.
We could have faked it, but we didn’t.
Applause washes over us. We bow.
I wish I could see the blush underneath your makeup.
The sound of their clapping rings in my ears.
Ah, if only you loved me.

The brain is chemicals and neurotransmitters, a wrinkled grey lump encased in bone.

Seven years from now,
every single cell in your body will have been replaced and I will not be someone who knew you anymore.
I read that online but I think I’m remembering it
Memory is such caustically sweet imperfection,
a rattling click click old fashiony movie player showing slides
that degrade with each viewing.
Eventually I will be remembering someone else entirely,
a homunculus crafted from the recollections of
the way you looked on January 7th, 1999,
at the kitchen sink washing dishes in our home in—

Where were we? I can’t remember anymore, I suppose it doesn’t matter

The soul is nonexistent.

I promised myself that I would never write you a love poem
because after a time I couldn’t see anything lovely in your motions,
and that was when I knew
that now I would be lying if I wrote for you, to you.
I am nothing if not honest.
Ah, if only I loved you.

But I still smile at you across the table where we’re eating breakfast, we always seem to be eating together, our constant is shared meals and the satiation of hunger.
As I raise my fork to my mouth I think to myself
that you deserve someone far more eloquent than I,
someone who can lie and say
I love you
back, when you whisper it between the sheets.

Sometimes I still think you are lying when you say it to me.