it's always you in my big dreams

three deaths.

1. the ink dries on our signatures hastily scribbled on this notice to vacate, this lease transfer agreement, the final page of our divorce settlement; black ink sprawling spidery-legged and indelible, sketching out the framework of loss.  irreconciliable proof that death is paperwork and curt decisions.  your hollow voice and my hollow heart empty out our home, strings of memorabilia that threaten waves of nausea and i pack it up, i pack it all, i keep every photo and every ticket and every scrap of paper your handwriting ever graced and i think that i would die without them but the first death is always like this, it is always a trick of the light, the words that can't be unsaid, the tears that can't be undone, the space of a few missing heartbeats that terminate us- and the u-haul pulls away in a gaudy funeral procession and we hug for the last time but it is a meager consolation for a loss that swallows me whole.

2. the body in love dies next, a slow and undetectable attrition.  my skin renews and the imprint of your fingers across my hips erodes to nothing; the cellular regeneration makes me new, another unmarked, uncharted territory washed free of your conquering trails.  the history of your mouth rewrites itself with new speech, new drinks, new women with foreign tongues vandalizing a place i once called home.  my hands forget how to feel for fevers, how to stroke your hair; my fingers forget how to interlock with yours like puzzle pieces finally reunited after years of being lost between the couch cushions.  we lose muscle memory from nights of sleeping implicitly in practiced art forms so your arms forget how to reach across to me and my face forgets how to find your chest and so my bed is a blank canvas stretching on for miles while my body remakes itself in new and lonely forms on the side that was never even mine- the blue period of my love.

3. one day i pause to say your name, and it feels like a stranger in my vocabulary, a half-forgotten linguistic crutch.  one day you see a photo of me but my face is washed in wide, monochromatic strokes of memories- and this death is the slowest, the hardest to bear, the final parting at a train station filled with estranged lovers who revisit one another in dreams, in wistful conversations, in the painful significance of missed anniversaries.  and we have long since lost the details and here we will finally lose the photograph- leaving nothing but an empty frame, a placeholder for years of our youth, a generic exhibit or tombstone template-

- loss of love, nothing more to see here.