“I wonder if the line ‘the stars looked beautiful that night’ ever think
of retiring in fiction and poetry.” You.
“In silly love songs, they don’t.”
I say, but the mockery in my voice could’ve told you this:
I used to love science when I was thirteen.
The grade school confusion between astronomy and astrology
dissipated but I became more enthralled with the questions of the universe,
although eventually, I accepted that planets are inanimate
and the sun is just a ball of gas.
And the stars are always dying, dying, dying.
I could’ve told you that when I was seventeen,
I burnt all my poetry with imageries of stars and constellations.
Because they ceased being beautiful when all lovers
under the nightsky swore to them last February and they weren’t
just the astronomical figures we hoped they’d be.
Stars are falsehoods, have I ever told you that?
And have I ever asked you if you think roses fear
the thirteenth day of the second month of every year?
Because I’ve always wondered.
I supposed the fear must’ve begun to disintegrate to exhaustion.
I’ve always wondered too, if dandelions or tulips ever envied roses
of being bought and given away and used over and over again.
Once, you whispered to my skin,
“Let’s dance under the moonlight in the dead of the night
and I’ll take your hand
and say the words I’ve been waiting to say
and you’ve been waiting to hear,”
before laughing at your own mockery of the people we try not to be.
We played old lullabies and sickeningly sweet love songs
and wanted to claw our throats and gouge our eyes out.
This was what you told me when the mixtape stopped playing.
“I can’t take my eyes off of you,” I half-sang
and brushed the hair from your forehead before grinning like
this was still a mockery.
You grinned too, thinking exactly that. You wrapped
my legs around your waist and my arms around your neck then.
But this is what I never told you:
I meant it.
You hate my favorite teahouse so we try to write songs
in McDonald’s at 4 in the morning, but all we end up doing is
argue about latte and french fries.
We drop our foreheads on the fast food table and giggle maniacally,
“This is going nowhere. We are going nowhere,”
and even that rings of truth.
We take the subway and head to your apartment but in the train
I tell you, teach me to die, teach me to die is a good line,
and it is.
You pat my head as though this was meant to be adorable
and I hold a grudge until we fumble into your room, breaking
the light switch and swearing like sailors.
We always fumble now, don’t we?
I tell you the tale of Odysseus but
you scorch my thighs with the patterns you draw with your thumb and
beg me to talk about Orion instead.
He died. His huntress killed him.
We don’t turn the lights on (anymore).
But in the dead of the night,
we dance under the glow-in-the-dark constellations of your ceiling and
you take my hand but nobody speaks or promises anything.
And it’s okay.
Because you were never a romantic and
I never was the kind of girl who wanted her valentine in February.