Sometimes, I spot a break of sweat or an incandescent glance -- a sweet split-open moment where I can see absolutely that she's lying, possibly even to herself, and that we both know it, and that I'm going to let her lie, and furthermore, listen, New York has her reasons; knows we can't argue.
Me: I'm sorry.
New York: What did I tell you about that? All the apologizing.
Me: I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Thank you.
New York: And that --
Me: Thank you.
New York might not know that when she turns from me, her back and its blades to my face, her front and its eager flesh to the wall, that I want to make her bleed so bad. But moreso, I want to make myself bleed. I can't tell if New York wants to hurt me or if she just doesn't care about me at all.
So I remain still, and wait for the bite. All night long, I wait for the bite.
She sleeps. New York sleeps. New York sleeps but I can't:
New York: I never sleep. There's so much anxiety, a fog of it. And those damned amphetamines ... consequently; the pearls.
Me: Always the pearls.
It's so pretty.
My father scooped me up with one arm before I got swallowed altogether by the wave. On the shore, my grandmother laughed nervously, one hand on her husband's stoic back, said something about being careful. Thank You, I say. I can't hear what she's saying about being careful, and the water keeps going. I shook sand from my suit, and hair. I never learned how to swim, but loved to tempt drowning.
California stops me with her breath, like just her body existing behind me is enough. She removes my shirt with her fingernails. I turn to her. I'm not hungry anymore, she's feeding me with air. She bites my lower lip, lets her teeth linger. Her tongue like waves with mine and then she pulls back, places her palm on my jutting hipbones and yanks me to her. I grab her hair in fists.
I'm curious about her secrets and her ugly heart, so when she leaves in the morning for work I snoop around and find an old drivers license with her photo on it; she looks young and angry and her name isn't Los Angeles. It is Kansas City. But I don't care, I like her plastic and fast and full of lies.
I'm grateful to everything, even to Kansas City, one of a million places I've never been.
On the beach, my feet still wet, my suit still soaked, we pass equal numbers of dogs and humans. There is also the audible experience of birds chirping.
And so I used to be fascinated with hands, lately I've been into spinal cords. The tracks beginning where legs leave off, parallel to gut, snaking gallantly towards brain, full of nobility. The ink at the back of the neck, itself a kind of prologue.
New York's hand grasps the back of my skull, my hair in her hand like it's anything you can steal, or borrow, without penalty, and so I bite her wrist. She doesn't flinch. Her unyielding mouth kisses me like I'll die from it, like she'll kill me of it but she does this with the silent understanding that first, before I die, I'll break out into a kind of muscle-wrought song that'll make everything worth it, and in that moment the rest will fade away -- the jagged anger, couples squabbling on street corners, car alarms and thump-thump hip-hop from giant mutated cars and cleaning trucks and go-go gunshots and kids looking for someone even more pissed off to get riled up about, girls and boys looking for love and knowing it won't even matter if it's real or not, as long as it's alive -- all of that fades away -- she tastes like toothpaste and cocaine, her fingers are limber snipers, knowing when to get there, and how, and then exactly how to exit without a trace on her but the signs nearly exploding from me.
And I'll thank her, which is a kind of apology for never being enough.
When I come, it'll be pure, it'll remind me of hearts and love, it will be a star, it will be a chorus of stars, a body pulsing like a star, when I come, you'll know it, you'll feel it all over, when I come, I'll say,
This is Me,
you'll open your mouth, begin to speak, I'll say,
don't ruin it.