Ashley M. Jones
I had never played before because I didn’t want to connect with someone I didn’t know. I played with you. And I was right. There is no one familiar on the other side of a minefield of yellow blocks, plenty of words but no meaning. I remember that afternoon you let me try on your shoe—so many sizes too big. My foot swam in it, so many dark spaces to hide. Your eyes, too. I remember when you showed me your sculptures, their gorgeous metal arms. Cold, like yours. I remember the way your braces shone in the sunlight. A puzzling sparkle. I learned to spell fear and love with the same black letters. Learned how to see you through some cliché, maybe rose-colored glasses?—or maybe just my own two eyes, finally. I learned that unrequited is an easy word to chew—it falls right off the bone, tender barbecue. I learned that you could play many games, simultaneously. Your hand on this board and that one and that one way across the USA—I learned that my heart is a wooden chiclet block, whittled away by fingertips holding, holding, then deciding it just won’t fit. I remember you always spelled words that you couldn’t use in a sentence, that were only useful for the points. I think about all those unusable words. The games you won saying things you couldn’t even understand. I think about the shape of your tongue. How strange it must feel for it to sit, split in your two-sided mouth. How the compass of it, north & south, maps its way through my heart and right back out.