I saw you wake up from a 5-minute dream full of mazes and archetypes, and noticed you had a crucifix hanging on the other wall. A Jungian baddie with your fat cock and sinister eye contact, why shouldn’t I remember you as the perfect Scorpio? The first day we met, you told me you’re not afraid of death and sunk your eyes into mine, prompting me, something like bloodthirsty, nearly salivating:
“keep going, I love the self-awareness,”
while I confessed some dark and recent trauma to you on the sidewalk terrasse of an overpriced pizza place.
Something about deer blood, something about immersive theater, something about your band, and something about Greece. You suggested we play a game: try to say the same word, on three. I steered you toward ‘Pomegranate,’ in each progressive turn hitching myself to anything I could remember about classical myth, (1,2,3, “Apricot”… 1,2,3,“Ambrosia”). I think you let me lead you, you saw what I was doing, trying to pass the test, using the flat few frames of interest you’d told me about on those first two dates. But what I wasn’t sure of—did you also know that I knew you knew?
If your brain deals in symbols, then I’ll take cue and read you through your sun sign and place you with the Picasso poster in your living room, your plywood shelf full of reeking poetry books, and that prolific, multi-pronged cactus (you made sure to point out that it was an enormous, mature version of a baby succulent you’d seen in my room). I’d had that uncanny feeling from first glance that you reminded me of someone I knew, or someone on TV, but you don’t. Like…is there an echo in here? Who knows. I only knew you a few days. I mean, even that’s an exaggeration. And, while I promise that in life, in general, I hold good faith in for your complexity as a human being—man, fuck me off your bed and onto your pile of dirty sheets: you played a very engrossing casual-sex-facing version of yourself, and that’s the only version I can write this love letter to.
This is a love letter because I--
Here is a love letter because we met briefly, and you stayed with me as a version of you that maybe doesn’t live anywhere else. Here is a love letter in case you ever want to read some removed, performed part of yourself that lives on elsewhere. If you ever want a moment of out-of-body self-nonrecognition, if you ever need more versions of yourself to feel spacious.
It’s very possible you don’t really remember any of this, but I do.
SETTING: We had the most flatly a-romantic first kiss at sunset. My only thought during it, after a flirty first date, was that we would absolutely never be able to fall in love now. I was absolutely prepped and primed to be wildly lit up, and you still let me be that. This is an unironic, sincere compliment—that was the most socially adept kiss; strikingly, brilliantly calibrated to be contractually casual without breaking the act of possibility, keeping things sexy, and keeping me out of things.
MOOD: You complimented my vocabulary, I told you I was self-conscious about my intelligence. I made a stale joke about your sandals because my power outfit hadn’t charmed you like I’d hoped, and I put my hair into a ponytail to deflect. I came back from the bar bathroom and you made sure to give me the exact attention I was looking for. Lock in on my eyes and smolder a little so I know those compliments are manipulations… I love it.
CHARACTER: You kissed me like a snake unhinges its jaw to swallow an antelope whole, everything about you was just over the line, something for me to give into with a small shrug cut short by a sharp breath and little thrill. You had to peel your tight jeans off in the heat. We fucked hard and fast and drunk.
ACTION: Naked, long legs lounging cavalier, solid, and tattooed, you sat shoved in the opposite corner of my very single bed on top of my ratty comforter, with my sea of beadwork running over your lap, sweaty and Present. When you told me about messy pasts and obsessive loves, you spoke with your eyes downward, and seemed frank and careful with your words ( —a writer). I felt relieved then that I’d been gentler and generous with you.
ANALYSIS: A circle, a leviathan, when I finally didn’t know what to say about myself anymore I asked you about them and you went on about the Theogony and the Bible and told me stories I needed to know but would roll my eyes at. It was sex and death and water and stinging monsters and weaving wives. Each trying to figure out which was the sun and which was the moon, that conversation became, (sorry every feminist artist, sorry every actual boyfriend) maybe more influential than any of the studio visits I’d had in grad school, any of the conversations I’d had with men who really knew my work (maybe some of the feminist artists would forgive me). You wouldn’t know, but our story really ends in a gallery in central Missouri.
Here is a love letter because you made me realize I’d never been in love, because you were the first to ever ask me.
Over beers at a tall table while my feet dangled, you asked me if you could steal the phrase uterine tides from our conversation. I said no, you can’t just take things from me. I had just finished dating a male artist ™ and very wary of boy writers Fitzgeralding me. But if you’re reading this, it’s yours, because, clearly I’ve no right to withhold things on that principle anymore. And you did hold my hand once in Point St. Charles. I brought a flower to my face with the other hand and you thought I’d popped it in my mouth. “Um, no, I don’t eat flowers. And that’s a city flower.” “That’s a city flower,” you repeated. That’s a remembered tenderness that, despite myself, I’ll want to give gifts for.
Apparently the sexiest shirt you owned had gone missing at some point. You told me this. I’m still pissed you ghosted, just, because I reserve that right since there’s no stakes, and I just thought it was really stupid. After my texts were one-week stale, I took a few dark walks by the water in Verdun, angst-listening to Orpheus by Nick Cave, leaning into the chance to direct bitterness at someone, better than my real breakup. Important things fit into the space that you made way for, though. I won’t thank you for that. But I will, I WILL write a little hymn to--
There was that one time that I got into work early on the first crisp morning with a matcha latte and a smile, bright and tired and knowing my ex would see he had .never. given me anything like the very identifiable stretched-cunt swagger I’d been gifted from you from the night before.
I still think about you sometimes when I need to describe well-carried confidence. For the sake of a love letter, I’ll tell you that you had a kind of charisma that was honestly a little enthralling as much as I wanted to resist being taken in; like your too-loud laugh, things almost always hit a point where it looked like you weren’t going to carry yourself off—just when it felt like things might get awkward, too big, you’d land a smile just an inch back from the edge, right on time to convincingly claim you’d had it all along. “You can take it,” you’d whispered once.
If we ever cross paths again, I’d like to tell you my pomegranate story—I think you’d like it (?). I literally ended up in the underworld for a while after doing a ritual for a Scorpio moon. I’d cut my goodbyes into a pomegranate but never planted the seeds afterward like I’d meant to. I was thrown into exile in all of my personal hells for years and caught in the down side of a life-death parabola. I’m always trying to conjure new beginnings without first learning how to die.
But thinking of Persephone and poisons and things that sting a little,
I hope you’re well,
PS. Four drafts into this and I’m remembering that I don’t even know if you’re a Scorpio. Where did that come from? Maybe we just spent our time together in the eighth house.