Thank You For Seeing City Lights In Me When All I Saw Were Burnt Out Candles

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SHUJA ZED / Unsplash

I could get lost in your eyes; in the same way the city lights sink in them. I could drown in your gaze; I could drown in the way your eyes soften as you smile. And you smile sad smiles sometimes. I think someone broke your heart once and now you think of her during blue hours. I think you’re trying to forget her but you still carry her hair clip around in your wallet. You say you don’t really like the sun and night lights are the closest you’ll ever get to loving it. And I laugh, because you love calling me the light to your city at night.

You use metaphors on me; words that I don’t understand. You call me yours; your city to protect. You call me every night because you say that’s when the city springs to life. You talk to me about happier things, things that I don’t pay attention to. And I’ll read you lines and lines of poetry. Somewhere in between you’ll let out a soft chuckle and point out how cliché the words sound. You always tell me that your city deserves better poetry.

Some nights you’ll drive by at 12 a.m. when my parents are asleep. You’ll lay on the grass outside my boring house as you read from my black pages inked in white pen.

“I will love you when I am ready to be broken again.” And you turn towards me as you run your fingers through my hair.

Darling, there’s no ‘you’ in this. It should have been I will love when I am ready to be broken again.”

And sometimes, just sometimes, you tell me stories about the city you once protected. You speak of her beauty; you describe her in a way that make the stars spin halfway across heaven. You told me how the sharpness of her words kept you on your toes. You told me that her smile tied you up in knots and her laugh made your head do bungee jumps. But each time, you end things on blue notes; like how this city deserves better or how she was all but a dream for you. You use words like ‘I don’t deserve her.’ You speak of her in ways that make the universe come to a halt.

And then you’ll make me talk about mine; about that goddamn dance with him under the streetlight. I swore you must have heard it a thousand times but you always say it’s your favourite story. Then you’ll describe both of us in ways that make my night sleepless. “Someone broke us,” you whispered. “We let them break us and now we have to pay the price.”

Then one night, you stopped talking about your city. You dropped gently to your knees and took my hand. You told me with eyes wide open that you’re afraid, because you are a traveler. You are far from a hero; the protector of cities that I paint you to be. And you asked me; your city to come along. You said you love me the most out of all the cities you’ve visited. You said you can never stay but I could go. Oh, but I am your city. And I would go but my legs are chained to the ground.

What is a city’s worth without its protector? And who told you protectors come in hero capes? Some come with knapsacks and worn out sandals.

And you tell me you don’t believe me. But you have to, because you came along. You didn’t come walking in like those cliché poems I read you every night. You came bursting in; you came rushing in like a shooting star and you are the only one who bravely walked every alley throughout this sleepy city. And you are the first who stayed long enough to see her soul.

You told me how your love for this new city hurts you; because you thought she was stopover but now you don’t want to lose her. She is a forgotten city; a place where the lights are soft yet never dim. Not everyone knows where to look, but there are angles where the light shines brightest. For the first time in so many nights, you looked into my eyes softly. You looked at me in the same soft way I remember, when your eyes reflected the city lights. You did it so tenderly, almost so carefully I felt my own heart pounding against my ribs, begging and yearning to be set free. And I knew; I knew I loved you too. For if you call me your city, then you must be my protector. You must be the knight that parents tell their kids about before they go to bed.

For if you call me your city, then you must be mine as well…

And if no city has ever managed to find their feet to go with you, then I will be the first to find mine. Because it has always been this; a protector stays where the city is and once in a blue moon; or maybe once in forever… the city will live where the protector stays.

Sometimes the hero protects the city; some nights the city shields the hero. TC mark

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