To the boy who loves me,
I lied. There is someone else. His words are like daffodils and they bloom exquisitely in the back of my brain when I’m supposed to be falling in love with you, when I’m supposed to be seeking something to fill the spaces between my fingers now that you’re not filling them, when I’m thinking of which venom-laced lie to whisper to you next.
I’ve found that, in the garden of my mind, I’ll always look for the yellow first.
I told you once, around a year ago, that tulips were my favorite. You sent me a bouquet the day you left with a note muttering sweet nothings knotted around the stems. I paid the words no mind-I’d rather read somethings, anythings, everythings. Nothings don’t fascinate me anymore.
Before that day, I’d never seen a noose made out of ribbon.
You said you liked the way the word “tulips” felt in your mouth. You said it reminded you of me-how you touched (pressed? settled?) your two lips on mine until they were so numb I had to run my fingertips over them to make sure they were still there, that I hadn’t been silenced. You said the petals, imprisoned between your thumb and your forefinger, felt like my skin under your palm-soft, delicate, easily torn. There was a rip on the ridge of one of the leaves and I knew it was you. You forget how to be gentle sometimes, even with me (especially with me). You said the color of them, the flushed pinkness of naked ears in the snow, was like the flush of my cheeks when you insisted on telling me things I didn’t want to hear, like the tint of my eyes when I spent all night pressing the corners of them to stop the tears from shimmering my cheeks. You said you’d buy me enough tulips to fill the space that’s emptied now that you’re gone. I wonder why emptiness disturbs you. I wonder if you always look at beautiful things and compare them to me. I wonder why I tear one bloom from its stem and press the bud between the pages of the letters I’ve never sent to you.
I say: Thank you for the tulips.
I say: Of course I miss you too.
I don’t say: I think I prefer daffodils.