I expected you to know the morning after we kissed
on the futon leftovers
from my dad’s basement—
repurposed for my living room.
I expected you would know
when I found you buttoning up your red flannel shirt—
familiar, like the red Target flannel I stole
from my ex-lover:
the girl with the rectangle garden.
I offered to take you home. It was six A.M.
You said yes, and I took that to mean
that you wanted to spend more time with me.
You confirmed this
when you asked me in for coffee;
back when you wanted me back.
I do not recognize my underground childhood
from my second-floor apartment
with windows as TV screens for snow.
Tooth-white chunks that play with the wind
only for my amusement,
I imagine a white flurry cascading beneath the streetlights
down to my nose
and attaching to the strands;
When I touch my hair
There is much to say about this futon—a welcome site
for sleepovers with my childhood friends.
The four of us crammed into a space for two adults.
We hid in the smallness of our elementary bodies.
Why did their parents allow them to surround
my fear from the monsters upstairs?
How much of it was a game?
The laughter was play.
We shielded ourselves sometimes
in the ground
from the imaginary creatures, upstairs.
We waited for them to come and find us.
It becomes difficult for small bodies,
with minds not so small,
to discern between what is real and what is imaginary
when what is real is unwelcome
and imaginary monsters become our friends and family.
You sit with me in the bliss of the unknown
That is—but may not be us.
Here In my living room
I watch the snow again.
I expected you would know what all of this meant.
Your words shimmy across the taut string
that connects our noses
from one edge of the futon
to the other;
“I’m really bad at this—”
My gaze falters from your face
to the brilliance of the Christmas lights
framing your torso.
You pull at the string, and nudge my eyes to yours.
It’s what we have in common.
It’s the honesty. The depression. The writing.
I read an honesty across your face.
It makes me want you.
It’s the vulnerability.
It’s the frank stares. The confessions that don’t sound with apology.
It’s the sparkle in our skin.
You sit with me in genuine silence.
My mind fills the space
With the false hope of an escape.
I recently graduated from a hallway
the walls were meant to be white—
Instead the moldy green of old citrus fruit,
the space between smelling of heat and stale cafeteria food.
Hopelessness, they call it.
I think of a past provider asking, “do you feel hopeless?”
The insincere tone in her voice irked me.
how does one go about losing hope?
We carelessly fall against the throw my Safta crocheted thirty years ago,
with yellow flowers cross-stitched into the black background.
A split between two squares, an open mouth
on the mouth of the futon;
Your lips are between mine.
Squandering space, enveloping one another in cotton,
collar tugging, blouse unbuttoning,
The string between our noses lags
as we swoon.
We shuffle, stretch and bend.
Extremities fall over the edge of the couch,
pulling our bodies closer to the floor—
the ground beneath us feels heavy,
tugging at the faded and torn photographs
that hide beneath the floorboards of my mind,
So heavy I feel like a child.
My inner thighs are layered with scars,
Red and raised, like this rug burn that will
Last for days.
What determines whether or not I remember
The story behind a scar.
Between my thighs your ears burn
with the story of each scar.
I feel that you know why I am this way.
It feels so much.
The sensation of warmth spreads through my body
like swallowing the bath and candlelight whole.
Up my legs, my torso, and my arms
the flame envelops me.
Salty teardrops cling to my earlobes
Where did they come from?
I hear them drip onto the futon
I hang myself and let the wildfire race
Stung out in the frigid room with windows bolted
shut, freezing air leaking in
Salt cakes onto the skin beneath my eyes.
I stand alone
all eyes, all two of your eyes,
“Did I hurt you?”
You ask, “Did something happen?”
I say, “I don’t know. I can’t remember.”
I expected you would know what this meant.
I have no memory of that night my monster fought her
with his fists
and then came for me.
At the age of sharing futons
my friend had an imaginary
Dave, a ghost that lived in her home
growing up. They danced together
in her living room.
Sometimes he visited her at recess
What happened that she can’t remember him?
About the artist...
Ari Marion is a twenty-five year old poet and amateur singer/songwriter from Logan Square. Ari has taken classes and workshops to transform her long-time ramblings into fluid poetry and prose. She has sang and read at The Nightside at Uncharted Books, performed slam poetry at The Green Mill, and continues to edit and prepare her poetry for submission to literary magazines.
Want to see more of Ari's work?
Check out her piece, Women I've Loved and Lost, from Issue IX: Breathe.