If I could map all my heartbreaks they would span three continents and 15 cities, but yours was the only history I wanted to share. Unanswered prayers whispered in the dark took the form of your unsure nakedness too near mine. When we lied still, I could feel the weight of our bodies, where men had planted flags and laid claim for centuries. Every breath a reclamation. I was the ebb; you the flow.
In the beginning we traded stories like playing cards. You told me about losing your mother. I told you about finding mine. You talked about how your tongue curled against itself when you tried to learn English. I recalled how cold and dark it was in the room where they taught us to forget our culture and regret our past.
And in the mornings I didn’t want to shower. I wanted the scent of coconut and hibiscus to stain my skin purple like the bruises you left because you had held me too hard– too close. But as we wove a longer thread together I realized there was no beauty in your stories. Where I found hope–you despaired–until the more I shined the more impossible it became.
I no longer know if the way I love you is resistance. In the morning you said, “don’t go outside because racism and sexism live there”. But they also live in your tragic heartbeat and my hand on your chest and the tattoo of the colony that you have there.
How can we love each other?
They tried to divide and conquer. In the latter they were successful. But I wanted to build a bridge across our difference made of pain and anguish and flesh and joy. Because in the language of my mothers the word for water is the same as the word for country and the saline in my veins made me think I could swim those distances with you.
Together we were the push and pull of the ocean. Together we were the uncertainty that only people who live in our tortured bodies could ever possibly know. When you sleep I can think of nothing but your faults and of how they close the distance of the seas between us. For what difference is there between an island and a peninsula when the sun beats harshly down on both? Yet men and games separate us. Spears. Arrows. Bibles. You grow farther and farther away; moving closer to being a man and farther from being my love. Melodies suspended in midnight will cease to matter.
And ultimately it will be the unspoken words that end us. The silence rendering us opaque and all that remains is how I punished myself for the poetry of your pain.