I want out of your narrative, out of the impossible, overbearing shadow of a Me I never was, a shadow you’ve tried to build a body for, all backwards in your bead-stringing, starting with a shattered mirror to fill in a shape you never saw whole.  When you pick up these pieces of me, they cut.  You think you know why, but you’re wrong.  I cannot live created in your image.  I want you to let me go.  That’s the only way I might ever be able to come back.  I am not your character, and I am not writing your story.

From you, I want fewer words that seem to occupy another plane, a plane away from where I live and where we are connected.  I want a plane away from your television programs I’ve never seen that you’re all too happy to narrate, a plane away from your sometimes nervous, sometimes merely habitual need to fill silences with words that neither of us are listening to.  I want more of your broad palm curled around mine, more of the flat surface above your shoulderblade, more of your brown skin and calloused knuckle, more of the coiled strength inside your spine that you are afraid to release.  I want more of your narrow waist and more of your quirky nose and more of your loose, dark curls.  I want fewer words and more of the sound of your breath.

What I want from you is perhaps purest of all, possible, perhaps, only because I once took so much.  I want you to find that place you once glimpsed before years removed that possibility from the reach of your ambitions and energy, before you drank the bitter dregs of an offered cup, a litany of tomorrows that stretched out ahead like cracked shells, a stain of spilled wine, a dozen broken oil lamps, all acrid wasted pools of tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow.  I want you to have today.  I want you to see yourself like I see you, the you I can see under a seemingly permanent and barely concealed grimace, under decades of knotted rage and a deep, abiding disgust.  You’re in there and i know it, and I want you to declare it for yourself and put away the rancid cup.

I think from you, I want to go back in time.  Of course that’s not really true; I wouldn’t.  I imagine the best I could do is to go back as an observer, to a place where we are both in the same room but not making eye contact.  I want to whisper in your then-ear, as you watch a then-me from across the room, that I love you, that I will make terrible mistakes, that I am on the verge of making one now, that I cannot see with my sad, dim eyes what sort of repercussions they will have, but that my blood sings your name.  Then.  Now.  I want to not want to touch you, and I want to do no more damage, and I want peace and wholeness for you and an end to a string of bad luck and treading water.  Could I accomplish this, I would, even if it meant erasing what traces remain of me from the margins of your life and memories.  I would, then, now, if only I could keep my share, even in a miserable bundle beneath my pillow like the relics of a suppressed saint.

I want your words.  I want to eat them, to drown in them, to have them soak into the very marrow of my bones, because I think I would have them be mine.  I think my dreams of devouring you, of finding small linen packets of rubies and diamonds that are yours, of surprising you on the verge of waking and sliding one arm around your hip and the other into your hair, of taking a glass I know you drank from — I think all of these are much more complicated than unrequited lust.  I think my jealousy is much more dangerous than that.  What I want from you I can see no way to have except by consuming you entirely.  Until then, I settle, a monstrous communicant, tearing off small edges of the papers you’ve written on and waiting, waiting for them to dissolve on my tongue.

From you, I want silence.  I will do whatever it takes to get it.  In my dreams, I crush your windpipe with a booted heel.  I cannot suggest more strongly, nor more kindly, that you leave me alone.

For you, I want a purity in the world that is impossible.  In trying to give you that kind of life, I would be taking away the only real living that there is.  I want things for you that I dare not act on even if I could.

I want to grab you by the shoulders and shake sense into you, and for that I am guilty of privileging my own narratives, writing you too easily into them.  Maybe I can see strands and stories and eventual likely outcomes more clearly than you, maybe because it’s a gift, or maybe because I’ve lived a lot of them, but maybe I am not giving you enough credit.  I am still guilty, however, because I don’t believe what I just wrote.  I am guilty for expecting you to live down to my expectations, even as I am guilty for imagining possible futures for you that you don’t even want. The paths I see ahead of you are not very many, finally, for all their minor differences, and I don’t think you’ve lifted your eyes above the rocky ground in far too long.  If I could have only one thing of you, it would be assurance that you would spend a week in a cave with nobody but yourself for company.