Even now, you are still a peony, all soft sadness and captivating glances and I am bamboo, rigid, tough, sinewy. Bamboo can’t afford to be restless like flower petals because we must bear down and root, even if it’s only rooting in water. My restlessness – your absence, these are the same two things.
Restless like the urgency of our movement, pushing forward toward the earth. We did not know what love would be like when it found its end, but we wanted to explore it anyway. There’s a word for the wrapping up of you into me and me into you, a foiling of our strengths, a mirroring of our differences.
Restless the way October evenings demand to make way for winter. I like to keep draft emails hanging out in my inbox. Letters I start writing to you just before bed because that’s the only time I can work around the space that’s missing in my heart. There’s nothing that will ever come close to my understanding of self that you helped initiate, but then, there’s nothing that will ever come close to the absolutely glued connection of a relationship we shared.
Edgy, tense, fidgety, I am restless because there was no body. Your dead-line a flatline, there was a date-line that specified marked the loss, your arms lined parallel in the sand.
Before you left, you tried to unshell me, stripping bark from stem, aggressive like peeling mandarins. Your demands, like that spring flower, opened and closed and opened until I gave way, too late.
Restless because I keep writing you love letters that hang out in my draft folder, that can’t be sent because your body is dead. I don’t know how to mourn because I never knew how to love. I have to keep moving.
Restless the way I keep rushing toward something I can’t place, a namesake, a harbinger, looking for signs in all the wrong spaces. More method than madness, if I keep moving I can keep living, but that’s not what you wanted from me, Im sure of it.
Still, I think of our love like bamboo. Something that doesn’t need much of anything to continue to exist, but when given water and sunlight, it grows. We are dormant now, our roots caving in on themselves, hibernation in prep to wait and want, coveting those peonies that look gorgeous but offer no scent, no flavor, no lasting joy.
Restless the way October mornings demand the crystalline clarity of the season’s first true frost and I know as much as ever that Illinois still isn’t big enough to hold me. Restless the way my lungs just want to breathe, loving you on the inhalation, missing you on the exit.
Jessica Evans is a Cincinnati native who practices uprooting and restarting her life. Recently she lived in a Bavarian forest and now she’s back on US soil. Evans has work forthcoming in Lily Poetry Review. Previous work has appeared in Tiny Molecules, Lunate, Ellipsis, X-R-A-Y Lit, Past Ten, and elsewhere. She serves as a mentor for Veteran’s Writing Project and is the flash fiction editor for Mineral Lit. Find her in the afternoons drinking licorice tea. Connect on Twitter @jesssica__evans.