By Sarah Kay
I had already fallen in love with far too many postage stamps
when you appeared in my doorstep wearing nothing but a postcard promise.
No, appear is the wrong word.
Is there a word for sucker-punching someone in the heart?
Is there a word for when you’re sitting at the bottom of a roller coaster
and you realize that the climb is coming,
that you know what the climb means,
that you can already feel the flip in your stomach from the fall,
before you’ve even moved.
Is there a word for that? There should be.
You can only fit so many words in a postcard,
only so many in a phone call,
only so many into space before you forget
that words are sometimes used for things other than filling emptiness.
It is hard to build a body out of words.
I have tried.
We have both tried.
Instead of lying your head against my chest,
I tell you about the boy who lives downstairs from me,
who stays up all night long practising his drumset.
The neighbors have complained,
they have busy days tomorrow but he keeps on thumping through the night,
convinced, I think, that practice makes perfect.
Instead of holding my hand you tell me about the sandwich you made for lunch today,
how the pickles fit so perfectly against the lettuce.
Practice does not make perfect, practice makes permanent.
Repeat the same mistakes, over and over, and you don’t get any closer to Carnegie Hall, even I know that. Repeat the same mistakes, over and over, and you don’t get any closer.
You never get any closer.
Is there a word for the moment you win tug of war,
when the weight gives and all that extra rope comes tumbling towards you?
How even though you’ve won, you still end up with muddy knees and scratches on your hands?
Is there a word for that?
I wish there was.
I would’ve said it, when we were finally alone together on your couch,
neither one of us with anything left to say.
Still now, I send letters into space,
hoping that some mailman somewhere will track you down,
and recognize you from the descriptions in my poems,
that he will place the stack of them in your hands and tell you,
“There is a girl who still writes you. She doesn’t know how not to.”