I’ll gather courage like baby’s breath
among the pregnant pauses, press “call,”
and ask you to sing for me.
You’ll laugh and shake your head,
honey-voiced and whisper-soft like taffeta.
“Why not?” I’ll demand.
(This is serious business.)
You’ll falter, then insist:
“Because I'm no good.”
I’ve heard you behind the piano bench, smooth and low
and sweet. Melodies flowed through the room like water.
At night, they trickled into my dreams.
(Your music is the best way to drown.)
You say you’re no good, but I know you: caffeinated edge
laced with hard liquor, sugar-spun interior.
Whenever aunties and cousins and coffee shop
baristas call you pretty boy, name scrawled
with a flourish on your cup, you roll your eyes.
(Yet every time the endearment slips from
my mouth, the world shifts, tectonic.)
I know you’ll give in to me like you always do,
because I’m your opposite: sunshine tonality
with a bitter underbelly.
If you’re a cat, I’m a dog. Tripping over myself
for your affection, overexcitable.
With time, I stake my claim on your place. A toothbrush
by the sink, extra underwear in a drawer. You let me steal
your shirts, then spend half the night trying to undress me.
People watch us on the street, noting the differences.
They approach, and ask how to navigate the impossible.
I simply reach for your hand and say:
“everything needs balance.”
One night, you caught me by the fireplace.
There was a smell. Something burning.
I blamed my watery eyes on the smoke.
After a beat, you saw it: photo albums sitting
like logs atop the blackened grate.
Years of memories had faded to ash.
And as always, the living began to obsess over the dead.
I heard myself ask about the men and women before me.
I expected you to get frustrated, to say I was crazy.
Instead, you told me you had never pictured a future
with anyone else. I stained your shirt with crocodile tears
and woke up wrapped in your favorite blanket.
Later on, you puttered through my kitchen like a mother hen,
self-assured and domestic. Whisks and spatulas were eased
into their drawers with care.
(That night, I dreamt of hatchlings, soft and sound
and safe, lined up in a row.)
Today after work, you call me back again.
There are more songs, ones I didn’t ask for.
“I like your voice,”
I hum over the line, half-asleep.
You pause. The silence grows thick and
full-bodied like honeydew.
“Hey,” you say. "Tell me something."
Do you want kids?”
The silence bursts,
“Do I want kids?” I repeat,
lowering my voice like it’s a secret.
My mind swirls with the thought of you, doting and patient,
at the grocery store to fulfill pregnancy cravings.
You, taking me on afternoon walks by the lake in the spring.
I want to ask if you’d sing to me then, but I know you would;
palm feather-light against my belly. You’d say I was glowing
before you moved to entertain us; your growing audience.
Right away, I knew my answer.
(You always make me realize how
much I want.)
“Not before you,” I confess,
falling apart like before.
Then something shatters, and we both start crying,
until we laugh at something stupid one of us said.
(We decide to tell our parents and nosy children
that I swallowed a watermelon whole.)
The two of us fall asleep with receivers
pressed against our cheek,
blue light gossamer until sunrise.
By Amanda Angelina Hall
Amanda Hall is a fourth-year English major with a CW minor. She also works as Co-Editor-in-Chief of New Forum. Amanda enjoys astrology, singing, and beautiful people with deep voices. After rediscovering her bisexuality this summer, she made the executive decision to be as obnoxious about it as possible.