June 2011

Manhattan Love Story #1

In city windows, our bodies look supersized, our faces, sad steroidal aliens. To whom does each one belong? It’s 5:30 a.m. and wet. Sidewalks are wet. I want another cup of coffee, black, no sugar. On a dance floor of spilled liquor and sweat, Zin and I acted out our fantasies of new wave love and white swan heartbreak. But now the streets are empty. Echoes are not possible. It would take a person or an animal blinded by loss. Beyond the immediate boroughs, Zin declares that the rest of the world is melting, lovers are turning one-dimensional or flat. She’s still working on that sci-fi story. We pass an oyster bar, then a small gallery featuring Cezanne and Man Ray photos in a magenta-hued light. I try catching the light rain on my tongue. You don’t love me yet, says Zin, because I am too many people. I am every reflection I look at. I am every character I create. No, I say, I don’t love you because you’re a reflection I’ve already caught. You only love what you don’t have. It’s like the rain. Try holding it and it becomes a thing of the past. Zin covers my ears and says Shhh. Do you hear them? She asks. Behind every door, you can hear the lovers, and in every lover—a secret. Every lover tries to destroy the other because it’s a piece of themselves. Then they try to get it all back. A puzzle for two, all jagged spaces intact. Zin walks backwards shooting me a queer gaze that is forced, that tilt of the head that is uniquely Zin when she is philosophical. A car rushes by. She loses her balance, falls from the curb. I rush to grab her. We’re both wet, I mean, wetter than what we were in a simple drizzle. With jutted jaw and wide dandelion smile, Zin looks back at me, into my eyes that she always describes as little Neanderthal men who can’t make a fire. I smile back, then focus on my hand gripping her upper arm. It must be some kind of love. I can’t let go. Not in this story.