I descend a steep street hill in East Harlem, tapping the software keyboard, writing soft words into the hardware. The rings on my hands remind me of the bonding practice. Bound by bands, I note the singular, small weight of the metals, how--with the glass cell phone in my palm--they clink against the back of the light device.
During a snowfall in Brooklyn, you stroke my beard; tiny black hairs ensnare themselves around your brass rings, now weighed down by my ephemera. You carry my weight onto the 3 train; I carry the guilt of your burden into the dream-state as I sleep wearily, limbs numb and backlogged with blood.
My rings never seem to trap your hair; I wonder if you pluck them out as I sleep beside you; I wonder if you watch me while you pluck; I wonder what you think of me as you pluck to keep my rings light, unbearable—
Beloved hardwood floors adorn your sunlit living room; as the incense smoke burns my eyes, I watch you clutch yourself at the knees. After a sigh, you unfurl yourself to touch my back, puncturing my threadbare skin, and watch me shatter into a metaphor. I can’t help myself; this is not the first time you’ve witnessed my transformation; it happens on Sundays, after morning talks beside the kitchen window, and blanket tents we pitch with our bodies, and last week’s strength thuds into the tepid coffee.
I opened your notebook: a plain three-subject thing with steel spiral binding. On its black cover, you plastered random stickers of manga characters in runaway poses, arms stretched back in flight. In the lower left corner, you wrote, "Tomorrow is Tuesday.” I asked you about it. You shrugged and said, "It speaks for itself.”
I closed the notebook, taped the corrugated box and placed it outside the apartment door. Is it about me? Is it because Dilla's deathbed album brought me to tears, and a blank piece of paper makes me nervous? I ignored your recommendation and never read For Colored Girls… but I did say—you heard me say—“well, I understand why they feel that way.” You replied, "bitches be tripping” and I laughed. Am I not enough of an adventure for you?
“Just talk to me,” I said to your tail lights: razor cuts healing, closing, as snow glittered downward, as your secrets became specters beneath my bed.
About the Author: mensah demary is editor in chief of Specter Magazine, and is a columnist for Fourculture Magazine. His fiction and nonfiction has appeared in Metazen, Little Fiction, PANK, Thought Catalog, and elsewhere. Originally from New Jersey, mensah currently lives and writes in Brooklyn.
Photo Credit: Elisabeth Clem/Poppy and Pinecone