FLIRT  |flərt|  verb

to behave as though attracted to / but for amusement rather than / an experiment with superficial / without committing oneself to/  a deliberate exposure of/ to open and / a flicking of feel

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Dear Richard,

I held onto another’s limb to steady myself underground. There were no available poles or doors to lean into, so I found the nearest human to flirt my balance against. First, I grabbed their wrist which was red and tinged with many punctuation marks, as though rebelling against José Saramago. Then, they unraveled their tongue like a carpet for me to wipe my fears on. I hooked my right knee onto theirs, clasping cotton to denim. When I coughed suddenly, without warning, they caught my germs with their palm. Fourteen, they exclaimed. Excuse me, I uttered. Fourteen germs, now connected to the lines of my fortune etched into my flesh. And you’re welcome.

Richard, I cannot claim to understand any of this. I only know letters and barely that. When the subway conductor announces my stop, I disengaged from their bones. Already, I felt mourn. I never got their name nor did I ask for their handle or hunger pains. I simply walked off, with a piece of their wrist still embedded beneath my fingernail.

finding love again through the bottom of a glass of language

Dear Richard,

I was not expecting this. I gave up men even before I began, but there is something in the simplicity and omission of your words that causes me to feel as though I should remain. So, I guess I will for now.

I write four letters to you in a book that your daughter wrote, which was all about you. But also about her. And also about loss. And searching. And the hesitance to find.

Did I ever tell you about the time I scratched my name into someone else’s womb just to see how far my fingers could stretch. Or the time I got lost on a railroad track in massachusetts and the only thing that brought me back was the trembling of metal beneath my wrists.

None of this is simple, Richard.

You set fire to telephones and I set fire to memories. But I have gathered up all the ash and resin of months and dates in order to understand. In order to be in my body. In order to keep reading you.