In the beginning you never want to let her go,
and so you don't for a long, long time.
You commit to bobby pins underfoot, mismatched
plates stacked like landmines,
long hairs that circle and clog the drain, filling the tub
with stagnant water.
You tell her something that you love about her
each night before you fall asleep,
until one day you look at her and realize that you
don't know what to say anymore.
“I am not happy.”
You whisper this to yourself once and then try to say it louder,
but the words won't cooperate.
Maybe a whisper is as loud as this thought can exist,
or maybe some words weren't meant to be spoken aloud,
but you still think them, and yes,
you whisper them to yourself
when she isn't listening.
Perhaps this is what you should have been telling her
each night as her hands searched for you in the darkness.
This isn't happening, you think,
unless it is.
You wonder if you owe her something,
like your heart, maybe, your red hooded sweatshirt,
the dirt under your fingernails,
You tell yourself that you've fulfilled your obligation to her with years –
Happy years, yes, but also years where you yelled,
years where you couldn't bring yourself to yell,
years where you sat next to her at the dinner table
and worried that you had fallen in love with a stranger.
Deep down you know that she did nothing wrong,
and that perhaps you are dealing with a debt
that can't ever be repaid.
You aren't worried about the goodbye.
The hardest part will be when you finally
admit to someone, “I do not love her anymore,”
and that someone is yourself.