You’re a cheater, I said.
To my reflection in the mirror.
Dazed from days of sleep,
I twined the floss around my finger
hoping to feel a pulse,
to feel life again.
It reminded me that
foxes floss their teeth with feathers
combing through cracks
the way some of us floss our
words with heart strings.
Some people wash their pain with tears,
but I don’t shed my grief that way.
My smile doesn’t always fall when it’s supposed to.
Sometimes I think that maybe I’m just broken.
But I know that behind every smile
there’s a lifetime of heartbeats
from the beats that hit harder than others.
So, no. I don’t really cry that much.
It’s because I’ve learned to put my heart on mute
a little too often.
As a boy, I cried at every goodbye
and it never got easier.
But I didn’t want the kids to call me sissy all the time.
I wanted to be a tank
or an astronaut, weightless
without the sadness to pin me down.
Sometimes it’s fun to play make-believe,
but I can’t always hide the way I feel.
I don’t want to hide the way I feel for you.
I’ve sucker-punched my gut enough,
Maybe you’d read my sign-language glances.
I might not cry for you,
but beneath my flesh runs a reservoir
lined with anchors,
your name carved in the hulls of sunken ships.
It flows from my chest
through my lungs
where you always took my breath away.
Sometimes, you still do.
But I think my lungs have started to realize
they know better than that.