The First Time And The Last Time

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You never know it’s the last time when it’s the last time. That’s what happened with us. If I had one more time with you, I wouldn’t take it for granted. I wouldn’t bother telling you things like “don’t go” because words didn’t stop what happened from happening.  I would be economical with our exchange.

I wouldn’t say, “I love you” because I don’t anymore. In fact, I might not even recognize your ghost at first. I would kiss you before you could speak. I would kiss you before you could leave. I would kiss you before you could say, “I’m not here anymore.”

Rudy Clark was right, shoop, shoop.

I would put my lips on top of your lips and taste the way your lipstick always reminded me of marzipan. I would lick the salt from all those dirty words off your tounge. I would take focused measured breaths. You would take focused measured breaths.

_____

I’m sitting drinking the second chai latte I’ve ever had in my life — because I am from the Northeast. Things are changing here in the Northeast. I like this café; the atmosphere is the smoke from a campfire. The music is a porch swing. Three bells jingle an interruption on the salmon door with green trim.

You enter seamlessly, as if you had always been here, part of the driftwood tables, the scattershot buoys, the mismatched mug collection, and the entire overarching summer cabin sensibility. You’re just another piece of this place’s composite beach hamlet aesthetic that happily grinds against its shiny, slate and silver, epic metropolitan home.

You’re tan, blond, and held together by that ease only people born in California seem to possess — you and your gold rush. Your hair is a beautiful shipwreck. I think that your bones must be made of indestructible sea glass.  I have to believe, somewhere, deep down, that this is what citrus does for people.

You sit down in a chair and tell me a gorgeous story filled with adventure and profanity. I lean forward. You lean forward. This was the first time I ever saw you.

_____

They are tearing down the café; it’s boarded up like after a storm.  But the dark and easy swell of a storm didn’t carry the business away in one simple finite wave. It just got pushed aside, like the tiny plants in a streambed, by the inexorable gush of the real estate market. This is the subtle and steady erosion of the past.

It’s funny how different that is from the way you left. It’s funny how similar. I walk over to where the doorway of the café was and touch the dirty plywood. I think about how the best times to look for sea glass are during the perigean and proxigean tides of spring, or during the first low tide after a storm.

The most common colors of sea glass are green, brown, and clear. Less common colors of sea glass are amber, blue, black, white, and purple.  Extremely rare colors of sea glass are grey, pink, red and orange. It is not indestructible.

If I had one more time with you, I wouldn’t take it for granted. I would put my fingers through your blond hair and dig my nails into your tan skin. I would burn focused measured flames. You would burn focused measured flames.

I would kiss you before you could speak. I would kiss you before you could leave. I would kiss you before you could say, “I’m not here anymore.” You never know it’s the last time when it’s the last time. But this time I would know. TC Mark

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