The Idea Of You

Your jokes sounded like the ones you used to tell. I remember hearing them in the spring when we were teenagers. We still had a few years left and I looked younger than I felt. I used to wear my hair in a braid wrapped over my shoulder. Your flannel shirts were always a size too big and sprinkled in paints. You used to find me in the hallways or standing outside on back porches. You would whisper through the pounding sounds that tried to drown us. And your words worked like notes, they used to write the best songs. You used to lean against the white walls that stood behind me, the ones that fell from the ceiling like sheets. And they were thin and barely there and all that kept us from falling.

Your outfits were predictable. Your jeans were dark and your shoes were worn. Your collared shirt smelled like fresh laundry. And your jacket was too thin for the air we were in. You needed a haircut but I didn’t mind. I liked the way your hair fell into your face when you told me your day. A few times you drifted away but mostly your eyes looked right into mine. They grew closer with each syllable. You pulled out a map, you needed to show me something. I leaned in and held on and it was natural. Your dark browns mixed with my yellow greens. And then the inches turned into centimeters until there was almost nothing left.

Your steps through the grass were patient and staggered. You knew how to take your time without wasting it. And you liked to say slow down and stop worrying. But really you liked the way my thoughts flew. They moved quickly and they could balance next to yours. They interlaced and built a puzzle without us trying. And we never saw the pieces, only the painting they formed once yours and mine had found each other.

Your weeks were busy. So were mine. They were packed high with full days, lined up neatly to make the month. We skipped hours and days even. The space between could feel sweet. We would use it to build letters that followed each other into sentences without ends. They’d float above us and they’d lay into the minutes we spent apart. I held the phone up so you could hear the details. You asked me what time it was in the city. You knew the answer but you liked to hear it from me. And then your voice was swept away with the breeze on my walk home. It dissolved into the oxygen and then all I had left was the idea of you. TC mark

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