Tell me again


I am the tinker-toy derelict in the corn;
you are the plucky jalopy in the public pool.
I mean to say, meet me in the delicatessen;
leave your fender at the bottom. The food court
of the mall used to be a tabernacle. 
There was a metaphor in the ball pit, in the cars
crashing into the play area of the new fast food joint,
where the four-way stop was replaced with a streetlight.
I mean to say, you have one hour until I envelop you,
the taste of hours without you on my tongue.
We burned from bleach in the hot sun & fled back
into the water, prolonging the inevitable when we finally
stepped back out. I met you on the beach when I was five;
I sang Pretty Woman with my swim shorts to my navel
to hide my scars. I went back home to corn & witchcraft
called anything but witchcraft. I found you at the Arch
three lives later. We did not know who the other was
until our thirteenth date, when we both pointed at a TV
in a shop window, playing Pretty Woman. We bought the store
& made it a bookstore with coffee in the back. Our sons
were two crabs named Cuddles & Schadenfreude. 
To think after all that, we would meet again in the deli
near where you skinned your knee. When people ask
how we met, we would look at each other & agree on
childhood friends. I am in the corn again, remembering
the garage in the back of the bookstore, from when this place
rented electronics, where we would go to cry when we checked
the books & knew it wouldn’t last. Do you agree it’s stupid
to slowly crouch away in fear the other will do the same,
as if it’s better to make the first move? I had been in Chicago
for a doctor’s appointment; we stayed at my aunt’s house.
We didn’t have cable, & I didn’t know any movies yet.
My aunt noticed I was watching with the sound off 
& asked, You know that’s a song too? & I asked if 
she would sing it for me, & I hummed it to myself
for two days until the beach when I sang it to you,
before we saw a baby shark & everyone left
the water. I felt it brush against me. 
Tell me again about the week after summer school,
when your parents took you to the beach 
after your cat ran away. Tell me again 
about the time you were driving in the rain
& a patch of road was flooded, & you drove into it.
Remind me of the books you kept when the store
went under. Tell me again what it meant to love
when we were defining it together.

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