Kat Giordano is a poet and crybaby from Pennsylvania. She is one of two co-editors of Philosophical Idiot. Her debut full-length poetry collection, The Poet Confronts Bukowski’s Ghost, is currently available through Amazon, and her work has appeared in OCCULUM, CLASH Magazine, Ghost City Review, the Cincinnati Review, and others, as well as a variety of manic, late-night Facebook messages. She tweets @giordkat and shamelessly sells herself at katgiordano.com
I’ve been thinking a lot about the story you told me
about the cat you had growing up, how one day
you let it outside like usual but it never came home
and eventually you had to give up looking.
you said a month or so later, you went exploring
in the woods with your friend and found its body
curled-up next to some kind of animal hole
that looked like it, too, had been abandoned.
you never figured out exactly what happened.
for a long time, I wanted to be that cat –
to walk off the edge of the map and turn up later
emaciated and still, my white body a cautionary
ending perfectly preserved in the snow
like a fish in a grocery store. I had no interest in
the revenge of living, only in being missed
enough to be considered lost, a lack of closure
gushing under your shirt like an exit wound.
now, I want to know what made the hole,
want to find that mole or that groundhog
and swallow its heart, dab its blood under my eyes.
I want to become the thing that leaves just in time
and stays alive to know it, warm and asleep
while you sit on blue fingers and tell some girl
you never figured out what the beast was.
if she’s smart, she’ll ask you how long it was gone
before you even realized something was missing,
how long you really spent searching in the cold
before you gave up and went back to bed.
I’ve been thinking of narrative,
how sometimes the loose ends just fall off –
so little ceremony it’s almost insulting.
People break up in movies and books
all the time but none of them have
given me the language for this sudden
acheless grief. I dig deep, scrape
some hard bottom where nothing bleeds.
You look up and your eyes are a plea for reason,
like a warm stone I can cough up
into your palm and my only sorrow
in this is there isn’t any, that by the time
I went to tongue the sand into something real
you could trace, it had all been swallowed.
Not too long ago was that Christmas tree
you bought me, boxed-up in your Nissan Rogue.
I speed-walked down 4th, floating
with you behind me, rushed you and it
through the door with my fingers
straining to recall what it was like
out of the cold. There was a relief
in that elevator, the first breath in a while
not to crystallize a micron outside
our lips. Do you remember?
It was so warm inside.
last year was the first time you cried in front of me.
we were up late drinking when your secret slipped
and you rag-dolled face-first into my lap
like you’d just spit the skeleton out of your body.
i had given up on seeing you open. you were
wound tight in Leo machismo and after years
draining fifths of 151 and breaking our brains
with strips of dark web acid, you’d never once
peeled an inch of it back. now, all of a sudden,
you were wet meat in my arms and everything
hurt. you shook there, tear-stained and raw
and i felt the air on each newly-exposed nerve.
i pulled out your ponytail, combed your curls
with my fingers, watched you go soft and beautiful
between apologies to yourself and your father
and God and the other guys on the swim team,
and then to me for the mess you’d been.
you picked your head up and looked at me,
limp and spent in a way that you didn’t recognize
and i could tell you found frightening. i didn’t
let you know what an honor it was
to see you break. you made me promise not
to tell anyone, and i fell asleep on your couch.
stepping out of the Uber the next morning,
the sky felt so big i should have known
we were standing on a precipice, that those were
the first and last real things we would ever say
to each other and in ten months i wouldn’t call you
a friend. instead i spent the whole day trying
to write what would later become this poem,
going red every so often like i’d seen you naked.
wherever you are now, hair gel and ego-slick
in your black leather jacket: i still remember
what you said that night. i’ll never tell a soul.