Breaking Vigil

C’mon skinny love, just last the year

There’s a night in the back seat of a long, bloated car, your feet tangled in the skinny end of a sleeping bag, when you can’t move him from your mind. Cicadas chirp outside your cocoon, muted by the cold-pearled windows. Your logic sits in your throat, whispers up to your brain, Stop. He cared more about his reflection in other people’s eyes than your trust in his hands. But your mind is too cloudy with the late-night fog of memories, and all you can think of is him seated at the end of a torn couch, caring, caring. The two of you on the dewy front lawn, cigarette smoke floating above the taste of burnt coffee, a father chasing his renegade children down the sidewalk in front of you, and him turning to tell you, “I was one of those leash kids. I’d just take off running.” And you laugh until you are doubled over, because of course he was. He might be running his whole life.

You were both throwing yourselves at the world then, seeing what would stick. There were rooftops and a million lanterns falling into the sky and nights spent on mountaintops above the world. And that love you felt, spilling out in all directions, took hands with another like it — just as combatant, defiant, insecure — and ran as fast as it could for the bright world. It tripped and brambles tore its feet, and at the end of the day, you would fall into bed with one another, too breathless with life to sleep. So full of life you sunk like stones.

Cut out all the ropes and let me fall

Two years pass since that night in the back of that old sedan, and more from that summer, and then we’re there, face to face in a foreign place. And there is caring, just like there was that early evening when we sat on opposite ends of that couch. But there is no beating warmth. No hate-love to tug you together and apart, together spiraling. There is no pull as you dive into the same fast adventure. There are just knowing smiles, the disentangling of old questions, the squeeze of a hand as you say goodbye.

You had thought, It’ll be fire or nothing at all, that dark night on the corner of Hervey Bay. The thought of either left you hollow.

But it’s neither. Those memories that tie you together, at that crossroads where your tracks crossed, never left. But now there’s only fondness as you lay back in the grass, alone, happily alone, and watch him go off into the distance. That’s where he belongs, after all, and that’s where your love lived: in the growing. Not in him, not in you, not in those mountains that breathed into the city. So you let go of the vigil you held in that sedan, watch it float off, understand. As long as we’re living, we’ll never run out of love.

But it lies in the living.


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