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"Even Heaven Aches to Hold the Earth" by Rue Huang

In October, I confess my love in the shape of bloodstains and fingerprints. As if I am a dead body who believes in reincarnation, holds a torch to her eye and thinks she will see her mind in its reflection. Instead, the leaves burn. The days grow shorter. Candles wilt. On Halloween I fist myself into concrete and hold my phone like it is your face, tell myself loving only hurts when it’s at a distance. I ache. I hunger. I swallow the cold until my insides churn with scribbles and manic pixie dust because it feels good to be uncomfortable. You are the poem, I don’t say. It feels good to want things.

In November, the cold makes me forget things. Most days are spent dreaming. In the dreams, your hair is shorter than it is now. In the dreams, I have most of you. It feels so much like loss. I contour my body against evening, bruise-soft and spectral, hold it against my thumbprint like a prayer. In the dreams, we are sitting on a rooftop balcony, heliotrope purple sky bleeding into our hair. Slightly breathless. You’re just watching. I was right, we are waiting for something, and neither of us know what. And then for two golden days, there are no miles between us, only soft smiles and humming and shirts that smell like honey, but everything reeks of guilt. It’s still not enough. And then you are back in my pocket, pixelated face glowing, born again. I am crying, are you? you don’t ask, but I answer anyway. Soon. Always. Never. In the dream, I can’t stop lying. I know it is a dream. I know this because neither of us has to go.

In December there is always a poem caught in my throat. It hurts to swallow, and it hurts more to hope. The paper I write on curls at its edges, bends itself to touch the sky in a broad semicircle. The air that twists around me tastes like nostalgia, makes me confess all my sins. I’ve told all my secrets, I say. Everyone notices and no one notices. In desperation, I trace the outline of my universe onto the skin beneath my eyelids and watch as it consumes me, day breaks like my voice. I dream more. I breathe in impermanence, breathe it back out. Water, I’m told, remembers what I can’t.

Here, in January, a sunrise is made of water as it dies with each ripple. Here I write ballads, elegies, free-verse, haikus but the words are all wrong and I can never get the syllables right. Here, I learn patience, here I learn terrible anger: I learn to scream when poems drain from the wobbly porousness of my eyes, coat each month in a pale membrane. Here I wait for a song that does not remind me, here I tell people I believe in ghosts. When stars crawl out of my mouth and fold inwards like origami, I can’t tell if I’m dreaming. Boy picture-perfect, boy walking through my dreams, boy the muse of every piece, boy who loves the universe and ragtime and robots.

I catch my throat. I catch the poem. I split every puncture wound down the middle and watch punctuation leak down the sides. I want things. Here, in the soft blue underbelly of adolescence, I make poems instead of promises; pretend like it is enough.

Rue Huang is a writer from Pennsylvania. When she’s not writing introspective journal entries on bus rides, you can find her consuming her bodyweight in blueberries or running competitively. Her Instagram is @rue.huang.

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