Fiction — August 28, 2012 11:44 — 1 Comment

Things We Must Not Mistake For Love – Piper Daniels


We walk to the beach, lie among the driftwood.  Do this because it’s easier here on your heart, sipping whiskey from paper cups, skipping rocks the sea returns. 

You turn and turn again, revealing in your own way, your only way, the distance between what you want and what you will allow.


Having touched the extra inch of bone in your back, the surgical scar of an earlobe sliced open, I name your scrapes after summer constellations:  Southern Crown.  Northern Crown.  Arrow.  Archer.  Shield.


I want to point out that even my scars are pure deception.  That they share the names of famous arsonists.   I want to warn you of the Bermuda triangle.  The women who disappear there, never to return.


A party in November, smoking on the steps, setting imbued with something beyond itself.

Ours is the evolution of touch, earned slowly.

And only very recently, how to breathe in time as you sleep beside me.


And even more recently, how to sleep beside you too.


You balance between octet and sestet: the volta.


Fighting is fondness in another tongue. A way of touching without changing.  A way of saying I like you without fear of the bitter return.


When I touch myself and am close to coming, I sometimes whisper your name, evoking you: a séance.

When I’m fucking the others, you are the specter.  Bright, inscrutable orb darting the darkened room.


You taught me, as if by accident, the weight of wanting.


Tiny bruises begin just above the elbow.  In your absence, I visit the mirror, inhabit the memory of being held down.

Places your teeth have marked tonight: neck, breast, belly, thighs.  Mouth-shaped wounds red as rings of lipstick.

My body becomes the pale archive of our violence.


That which exists between us has never been, can never be, named.


We have always known what we are not.  You say you’ll never fall in love with me. I say it back.  If anything, I’ve become braver.  I see you for the arsonist you are.


Any day now, we’ll both agree it’s over.

One or the other or both of us will not be telling the truth.


Of everything, what is most surreal to me is the way brutality can be its own form of closeness.


I will queue behind the women who claimed you first and be glad for my fraction of time.

Never will I leave in tears, begging the highway to hold me home.  Never will I wish the land to be less eerie in your absence.


Piper J. Daniels hails from the Motor City. She holds a B.A. from Columbia College Chicago and an M.F.A. from the University of Washington. She is one of the literary collage’s most ardent polemicists.

One Comment

  1. nancy says:

    love the brutal strentgh of it; fearlessness of this kind is painfully earned

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