The first time you told me that you wanted to kill yourself, I should have called your mother instead of letting you think you could rely on something as shifty and indifferent as me. I shouldn’t have written you poetry. I should have cradled the phone like a newborn and driven all the way to Texas, shown up on the doorstep in that indiscriminate heat just to open my arms to you.
It’s just that I am selfish and gas is expensive and it’s hard to tell the difference between wanting to die and just wanting to sink for a while. It’s just that I knew a boy once who only said those words to me when he wanted my undivided attention and my legs spread in the back of his car. It’s just that I thought it was one thing to want to die and another thing to pick up kitchen knives.
When you showed me that it was the same thing, I went through an entire season of not even wanting to stand near cutting boards because of the steady chop chop chop. Because of the slice. Removing the skin. Cutting out the bad bits. It’s like watching someone yanking out weeds from the root when you have dandelion veins.
I had a dream a few weeks ago of throwing all of the sharp objects in your house onto the roof. I had a dream about burying them in the backyard so you couldn’t lay out treasure maps on your skin anymore. I had a dream about driving all the way to Texas just to end up crying in your mother’s lap.
I’m sorry it took me so long to understand. And I am sorry that I ended up understanding too well. I am still selfish and gas prices are still high and now I spend too much time having to wrap my arms around myself to ever let go long enough to hold someone else together.
I should have called your mother. I should have called your mother. I should have called your mother.