After the final no there comes a yes
And on that yes the future world depends…
If the rejected things, the things denied,
Slid over the western cataract, yet one,
One only, one thing that was firm, even…
One thing remaining, infallible, would be
It can never be satisfied, the mind, never.
– Wallace Stevens, “The Well Dressed Man With a Beard”
Maybe when this is over, we’ll live someplace else. Would you like that? I hear in California, the sun is always shining. Maybe I’ll buy you a bikini, and we can spend all day at the beach. I hope our pale skin won’t scorch beneath that unforgiving sky.
I stood in your doorway, looking at you, knowing we should’ve left earlier and now it was too late. I wondered why and how and when you forgot that you loved me. Or maybe, you didn’t forget. Maybe you lied. Well, guess what? I lied, too. I’d been to California. I grew up there, and the sun wasn’t always shining. I was raised in the land people run away to, a land I ran away from. A land of hopes and maybes melted to nothing in the summer-drunk sky.
Maybe you need to realize that, no matter what, you’re going to be a writer. You are, and I hope you know that. But I can’t deal with it.
The memory that woke me up one night: the day I went to you crying, chest heaving, more worked up than I’d ever let you see me–in that moment, I betrayed where my loyalties lay. What came first, what always had. Maybe you had no choice but to leave me. Maybe after everything I’d accused you of, I was the one to blame.
Maybe we should try again.
What’s this “again”? We didn’t try the first time.
I hope you’re well.
You can hope all you want, but if you don’t ask a question, you’ll never get an answer.
Maybe I still love you.
Maybe you don’t know how to love. Maybe I love you, too. Maybe us not loving one another was never the problem.
I hope you’ll forgive me.
But how can I? You never asked for forgiveness. Because in the shameful pit of your heart, you believe you’re a god, and gods needn’t stoop to request such a thing. O, Zeus, in Roman mythology, you are Jove or Jupiter, and Wallace Stevens speaks of the clouds that bore witness to your “inhuman birth.” Ovid tells of how, though beautiful, you disguised yourself–as a swan, the fog, a woman–and in this way, seduced many. These women birthed a legion of demigods who would never know you, would never see your face, and that didn’t bother you at all.
Maybe if you’d been Venus instead of Diana.
Maybe you should’ve told me that from the outset. Maybe if you’d given me half a chance, you would’ve realized it didn’t matter–you would’ve seen who and what I am without the titles, without the stereotypes, without the misconceptions. I welcomed you as a swan, as the fog, as a woman, and when you came to me again, you morphed into Janus, the two-faced god of beginnings and transitions, of gates and doorways and endings and time. The Greek pantheon had no equivalent to you. You were one of a kind, and I ate it up like taffy I’d left on the dashboard until it was pliant as butter.
I hope you understand. This is just me.
Of course, it is. It’s you, and it’s always about you, isn’t it? But how am I supposed to get a handle on you when you keep changing shape? O, Zeus. O, Janus. When you came to me yet again, you transformed into Brahma, the four-faced Hindu god of creation. Unlike the others, you held no weapons, but you wounded me just the same. And I–I have perfected the art of having my heart pierced to pieces without ever actually entering into relationships.
I miss you.
Maybe you do. But maybe that has nothing to do with me, like none of it ever had anything to do with me. I hope you know this: there will come a time when I will look at you, and your eyes won’t be as blue as I remembered. I know. It’s happened before.