With starfish in your hair, you sat atop a coral-reef rock;
girl, scowling because you were irritated with me.
I'd given you a piggy-back, then dropped you at the riverbank.
Girl, your eyes were hard as emeralds as you picked seaweed off
your favorite bikini; a pin-up darling, 1950s sexy, all over.
But Holland, I was fascinated, even as you avoided my gaze.
But that was last Friday when fireworks were
lighting up the wine-red sky, when
the bare-chested boys by the pier were
howling like banshees or wolves.
Saturday morning, I tried
to make it up to you with a box of
fresh blueberry muffins, a peppermint
latte from the nearest cafe.
But girl; you pushed the treats away,
pushed me away and slid
the door to our tent shut.
Oh Holland, it took me awhile
to make you smile at me again.
But I knew in my diamondback bones
that we were okay when
you wrapped your arms around my waist,
pressed your cheek against my shoulder.
Oh Holland, we could
never stay mad at each other for long..
At least, not back then;
back when nights were
perfect, our escape-plan, remnants of
the 80s, soft grunge tones and vanilla
ice cream with rainbow sprinkles
coaxing us out of our cave-like house.
You were sweeter than
butterscotch, girl; vintage candy,
sitting beside me in my faded Silverado,
humming the chorus to yet another
heartbreaking Goo Goo Dolls song.
All the choir teachers at school
criticized your voice, I remember.
They favored the girls with
Betty Page hairdos; mock-innocent sopranos,
calling out to all the jocks, wrestling champions,
“Oh give us those pearls, sailors!
Make us your pretty little Bedford housewives.”
Oh so pathetic..
I always knew you'd never stoop so low, beg
for guys to look at you with dollar-sign eyes,
grant your every wish but the one
you thought most special, Holland.
No, you were going places;
to college, to L.A to become an artist,
like you'd always wanted.
But the problem was me, wasn't it?
Holland, I was never happy
to let you out of my sight.
Overprotective to the core,
I fooled everyone but you, girl.
Things were never alright at home.
We kept the secret; kept each other
sane with warm side-hugs,
gentle pecks on rusted-peach
You were my safe haven..
Every afternoon at three,
I couldn't wait to see you, Holland.
And god, I wish I could
turn back time to breezy 1965 when
our relationship wasn't
so wrecked; damaged by nightmares,
by gunslingers, dead sparrows in the bird-bath,
by the dangerous world that is high school, girl.
No, in that separate place; a sparkling dimension,
you were still locking your arms around my neck,
waltzing with me to Elvis medleys
in front of our favorite malt-shop in town.
In those see-saw days, you were always
laughing; playing games, teaching our puppy
new tricks in the backyard, Holland,
your hair loose and draping down your spine.
All that fun, all that innocent hassle of
building a tree-house, working together.
Oh yeah, back then, we were like
knights of our own round-table.
But now it seems all I do is make you angry..
And I know I took what wasn't mine, a piece
of you that you were saving for someone else.
I got jealous, seeing you smile at him across
the picnic table the weekend we went camping.
Oh I lost my mind for a second,
lost whatever common sense I once had,
stored away in my astronaut-loving brain.
You reminded me who I was when we got home but then
I pressed my thirsting August lips against yours.
Oh I acted too quickly, stupidly because
it was all too fast; the heat coursing
through my veins, the taste of a summer morning
on our tongues, all blackberry leaves; sweet, tart poison.
I pulled back when you hesitated,
brushed strands of wheat-blond hair from your eyes.
“Wait,” you said. “This isn't right..
And I wished to God that time would stop, Holland;
that amber-hour set in stone, that
the universe would yield to my sick desire,
help change your stubborn mind.
Yeah, Holland; I'm guilty of
almost everything you accused me of
in the living room, in front of that
You called me twisted.
You called me insane.
You said, “Maybe we've gone too far,
thinking we're unbreakable.
Please let me go, then.
You're my best friend,
not my high school crush.”
It was that simple, Holland.
I never meant to hurt you but there were
real tears in your eyes and
you stepped back when I stepped forward.
Your left arm brushed against the flames.
Darling, I pulled you against me before
you could burn yourself more.
Girl; with small pearl palms against my chest,
you blinked up at me then.
I could see embarrassment
in your sea-glass eyes warring with
the irritation you still felt towards me.
And I swore at that moment;
to my evil twin, the scheming incubus inside,
that no matter how angry you got,
I'd still protect you, no matter what.
No matter who came along;
jumped over our fence, tried to be your only one,
I'd still leave my mark;
a phoenix tattoo upon your life
because that's all we have, this thing, this bond
between us that makes us unbeatable.
And I know you think you're broken, beyond repair;
too scarred to be considered beautiful.
Holland, you ask me every time we go sailing
in that old boat our dad tossed in the shed,
dubbed useless; you ask,
“Why don't you go out with all those other girls?”
And I follow your gaze across the shore.
“There are calla lilies there,”
you continue, pointing.
“There are roses and fresh tulips,
so why do you waste
your time, your sloppy Thursday
kisses and lullabies
on a fading dandelion like me?
Boy, I'm wispy; can't offer you much
in the way of wishes, scattered,
priceless in the August breeze.”
Oh girl, don't be so morbid..
But it's all so appropriate, isn't it;
the lace curtains splattered
with blood, a broken kitchen chair,
your heart on the floor of my bedroom?
It's the only thing I could save
from that night of whiskey and lavender
petals, remorse and understanding.
Oh let me keep it for as long as I can;
Holland, pumping summer air and sunlight,
natural vitamins, starfish blood into it.
I don't want any one of those party-sirens
with corn-silk hair, red lipstick,
that you pointed out to me.
They don't make me feel like you do, like
I'm needed in a super-hero kind of way.
Dad threw me out with the trash.
Mom ignored my screams.
But Holland, I know that
you'd never do such a thing;
make me feel less than human.
“Of course not!” you exclaim,
then shake your head.
“But we've gone too far..
We have to slow down,
turn back time to at least
blur out that last Wednesday.
But, Holland, I don't regret it.
You can do what you want;
I'm holding onto that moment,
that instant when you forgot
how close we actually were in the backyard
as we lay on the prickly grass,
watching fireworks; America's independence
splashed across the sky in shades
of maroon and dandelion blue.
I'm keeping that with me;
the memory of your eyes closing,
my hand ghosting over the flat
plains of your stomach, your cute bellybutton
and birdcage ribs, all the way
up to your shy sunflower breasts
tucked in a Ginger bikini, hidden
beneath a New York t-shirt.
You were startled, only half-asleep.
I swept my hands over your curves,
inhaled your girl-next-door flower-shop perfume,
but Holland; I stopped, pulled away
because I didn't want to be a curious pervert,
intruder of your most secret universe.
When you woke up, you asked me why I was
hunched over, blushing fiercely.
I could not reply, honestly.
“It's nothing,” I insisted.
I know you didn't believe me
but would you forgive me if
I told you the truth; that
I heard you sigh and thought you wanted more,
that I never wanted to stop?
Holland, would you have understood
if I'd said I could never be with anyone but
you; the real Ophelia rising,