by Rebecca Gaffron
Since you changed your mind, my hair’s grown long. It falls like tangled, curling ivy. When I pull the wild spirals straight they almost reach the small of my back, like fingers stretching toward the tree you once caressed with a familiarity that belied our experience. And you said we would have years together, that you would spend hours learning every contour of that pattern inked on my pale skin. Those words seemed to come from nowhere, much like our love, as I bent down to put something away in that kitchen that wasn’t a kitchen, while your fingers traced my roots.
It’s difficult to stand there now, as winter light slants through the widows like it did when we lingered together. The weak sun reveals your ghost. Its haunting aches in me sometimes, my own winter garden, filled with emptiness so complete and yet so temporary. I have faith that you are with me. I feel you. I hear your laugher. I see your face, all but hidden by my mass of hair, your hands caught in the tangles, as I lean over to brush your sweet lips with mine. These moments are real. They exist in me, because they still exist in you.
Since you changed your mind your hair’s grown long. It hangs limp around your weathered face. There’s more salt than pepper now, as I pass you on the street and realize it’s not you. Or not the you I know. The one who loves me. The one who explained that he could be content without me. That life would be okay, perhaps good, even in my absence. But only because we loved. And would love. Forever. The other you looks at me with deadened eyes and sees nothing special. He’s lost. And comfortable that way.