On a Tuesday

Editor’s note: Content warning for discussion of domestic violence and death.

In my fervor to protect you
I never paused to consider
all that I lost
I did not have time to grieve,
to mourn, to cry
—nor did I know how.
Except in private hours
when I wept bitter tears
of frustration.

You ignored your phone the first time. After all, it was three in the morning, and our friends back home were notoriously guilty of ignoring the time difference (especially when they were drunk). When it rang again moments later, I bristled, annoyed that you rolled over to answer. Whatever it is can wait ’til morning.

But whatever it was had already waited nearly a full day before the police had shown up at your mother’s door, before your eldest sister had called you with an eerie calmness, before your mangled sobs suffocated you as though there were not enough air left in the atmosphere.

I could not hear the other line, but a pounding heart replaced my drowsiness. I knew the answers to my questions before you told me.

There are emotions
too big to name.
Instead, the weight of your grief
crushed your soul
into sparkling diamonds that slid down your cheeks.

Expressing empathy is not my strong suit. My emotion manifests as productivity; I am a planner. I was reading your work policy on bereavement before you put on socks. I was booking flights, making arrangements for a friend to water the plants. When I called my sister to ask if she would be able to pick us up from the airport, she cried at my even tone. She cried harder than I could imagine. I was jealous how effectively she grieved.

I am so sorry, my love
for the lives taken too soon,
for the emptiness you will never
be able to fill.

It was technically manslaughter. Murder implies intent, and on this particular day, I do not believe he had meant to kill them. Whether he had intended to kill her the many other times he had hospitalized her and broken restraining orders was anyone’s guess.

And he did not, I believe, mean to kill her son. Our nephew. But after all, he was someone else’s child, so his life wasn’t worth much. He was, to a sociopath, a justifiable casualty.

I have ignored this weight
for seven years,
continuously planning
a new life
new ways to see you smile.
Attempting to ensure
the emptiness never beckons
never calls to you
or—at least—
that you never flirt
with joining it.

Today the weight was too much. Maybe it was the startling silence, bereft of chatter to fill the void. Maybe it was the first cool day, smelling like fall, like the new school year, and the realization that our little nephew would have been starting high school this week. Maybe I had nothing left to plan, and the weight of nearly a decade barreled down upon me, rebuking my callousness all these years.

My focus on you,
I never paused to consider
all that I lost.

Malo is a queer artist who oscillates between the fear of being discovered and being forgotten.


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