When two rivers meet, it’s called a confluence.
Did you know that they could meet without their colors mixing? That they could collide, crash right up against one another, run and roil and rage side-by-side for a time, and separate, taking only their own water with them when they go?
That isn’t us, or at least, it isn’t me.
We have collided, crashed, and ran alongside each other three different times now, and I have never had any doubt that each time we separated, I carried some of you with me. That there is no strainer fine enough to parse out what parts of me now are you.
I may not carry your heart with me, but I carry your laugh. I carry it downstream, upstream, I somehow manage to carry it against the current. I know that I didn’t steal it from you, so maybe what I carry is just an echo.
(Still, it’s something.)
I may not carry your heart with me, but I carry your fingertips. I carry them on my skin, even though my skin has regenerated some 24 times since you. Even though I have scrubbed it, I have begged it, I have asked it nicely not to remember you. I float on my back on this river of mine, and my skin burns everywhere you’ve touched.
I may not carry your heart with me, but I carry your kindness. You would probably say I had more of that than you to begin with, but I will always disagree. I could not have loved you if not for it. If not for the way you make conversations with strangers, if not for the way you always waited patiently for me to find the right words.
(And not blaming me when all I found were the wrong ones.)
I may not carry your heart with me, but you carry mine.
I wonder what it sees, where it goes, what it touches as it floats with you along your river. If it flinches, if it feels safe, if it misses me at all.
If it thinks that I’m a fool, yes, I’m sure it thinks that I’m a fool.
Not for letting you leave with it, but only for letting you leave.
We will meet again, I know, but even when we do, I don’t expect to get my heart back. I only expect that you’ll take more of me, and more of me, and more of me, until my river runs dry.
Until my river would run dry, except —
I carry so much of your river within me that my head is below it, that my toes can’t reach the bottom.
That I drown, that I drown, that I drown.
In the good, though.
I swear, I will only ever drown in
how very much
I loved you.