thirty-six (stem stroke stem)

by nike, December 5, 2014

slideEventually, someone you love will stop loving you. You can only imagine what will happen next. You will stand with your back against the wall in an empty room. Sliding down the wall. Sliding down until you are folded like a mirror of the letter N: your back a stem, your thighs a stroke, your shins a second stem.

You will feel as if you have done something terrible. As if you have dug a grave for your lover in some remote part of the forest and dreamed of that grave, of taking them there, for as long as you have loved them.

No matter what happens, do not say that you love this person who has stopped loving you. Choke down the words that rise through your gut, into your throat, like gorge. Do not remove any of your clothes, or offer to perform those acts of love that you once considered abhorrent, or shameful. Do not take your lover’s shit into your mouth. Concentrate on the feel of the wall against your back. Think of the fist-sized hollow between the wall and the curve of your spine. Imagine holding something there–something small and warm and alive.

Everything will be ruined, but for Christ’s sake hold it together, just this once.

Offer the forgiveness you do not really feel; do not reach for your lover as they walk away.

The next day, and the day after that, do not tell people the truth about what happened. Tell them you worked late. Tell them you are tired. Tell them that you are worried about the election, or climate change, or refugees. Do not show them the wound where your heart was taken out. Do not let them tug at the black stitches in your chest.

Do not swallow shards of glass. It was only love. Soon, all you will remember is its faint, nostalgic beauty. A beauty like the memory of streetlights flashing past while you lay in the back seat of your parents’ car.


  • This one killed me, Nike. You're brilliant.

      • Replay Cancel Replay
      • December 8, 2014

      Thank you, Jane!

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