With and Without by Larissa Noll

The wanting, the remembering
is bright and buzzing.
(You, a lazy smile, coaxing me,
a fervent child
into giving more than I could
ever hope.)
My arms splayed wide,
I am spread out and full
reverberating with a gentle hum.

Silence envelopes every crevice,
crawling into the tiniest pockets.
(I am filled with memories, bursting
with pregnant could-haves
that will never come full term.
My dreams carry the weight of a rattle
I may soon learn to drown out.)

The night lulls stillness into
my beating heart.
(I wait on you,
my sweet prayer tiny as my fingernail.
My hope as meek as a child
with hidden face stained by cherry jam.)

I am awake,
memorizing the motion
under my skin.
(Although I wish instead to be
drinking in your slow smile,
counting each revealed milk tooth
as if they were shooting stars.)

Only I remain,
left to count the moments like branches,
spindles wrapping around my body
until I dissipate into the night as well.
(Your name drips from my mouth.
As sticky as spoonfuls of honey,
as soft as a whisper even I should not hear.
As if it is a secret.
As if to place these words into this room
would be to confess.)

I exhale,
releasing each hope
as if I were releasing two little hands,
plump and stretched out,
reaching, reaching, reaching.
(I carry your heart inside myself.
A steady thumping
perfect mirror to my own.
A never-ending echo,
I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.)

With patience, with grace,
I feel everything.
The clamor, the movement,
(the regret,
the pain,)
the always present commotion
reminding me
We are alive.

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