What did I think about before you touched my thigh? Let me say this: I’m going to touch you until my fingers fall off. If my fingers don’t fall off, I will hold your hand even if it’s sweaty. And let me say this: You are lovelier than clouds that look like lovely things. I have only loved a few times and the last time was when you rubbed my neck under the monkey bars. We weren’t much younger than we are now. I still have the same haircut. You still have only one dimple. It’s on your left cheek and it looks like you fell on a pebble. I love that it looks like you fell on a pebble. Let me say this: You taste like candy canes. There was a candy cane tree in my old neighborhood. My neighbor hung candy canes on the branches of the willow and I snatched them in the middle of the night. It was December when I rode my bike the quickest, like I was going somewhere to meet you. I like you more than the candy cane tree. Let me say this: I am uncomfortable in my own skin, so I hold your face. I hold your face and your hips but mostly your face. You have a lovely face. Let me say this: I love you like monsters like scaring little kids. I make a list of words I can use to diagram your body: petite, mellifluous, comely, milk, necessary. Please, forgive the humming; you see I rarely taste candy canes in March. When I don’t taste you I taste sweat. Not good sweat, mind you, sweaty sweat from the men’s locker room. Sometimes I taste pizza, but that’s only because I loved pizza first. Let me say this: My love for pizza was fleeting. I was young and naive and thought that extra toppings meant something. These are fine days because they end with you. Let me just say this: I’m going to kiss you until my lips fall off. If my lips don’t fall off, I will kiss up your spine until I run out of spine. Then I’ll start over.
I go to Tampa because the meds stopped working. It’s not what you think—it’s probably much worse. I go to Tampa to sit on mall benches. I go to Tampa and I finger the fifth pocket of my jeans and that’s where my lighter would be but there’s no lighter so my finger just sticks in halfway. I go to Tampa and I can’t find her even though she lives in Tampa and that’s the only reason I’m in Tampa. I go to Tampa and I want to punch myself in the face for going to Tampa. I sweat through my cardigan because it’s hot in Tampa and I’m the only person wearing a cardigan. I go to Tampa because I heard she ran into an old boyfriend. I don’t know if she fell in love with him or if she checked his medicine cabinet and saw that he didn’t have to take a pill to feel okay and thought that was enough, but within a year she was engaged. I go to Tampa and order a Cinnabun. The Cinnabun is too big. I go to Tampa and I don’t finish a Cinnabun. I go to Tampa because the last thing she said was not even if your mother dies. I go to Tampa because my mother did not die. I go to Tampa because my father still puts his hand in my mother’s back pocket. I go to Tampa from Virginia and by the time I get there my face itches. I go to Tampa and I call my friends and they say you’re crazy and I nod my head but they can’t hear me nod my head through the telephone.