Nothing looks right except that I’m wrong. All of his memories are seeded from long ago. I think of myself, long ago, and it’s doubly-sad, the time before him. Early-twenties yearnings, autumn rain, a face that stretches tight over the bridge of my nose when I smile.
I have photos, and what stories he tells me. A small picture on his mom’s refrigerator: his face so smooth that it looks impossibly clean, dimpled as he smiles down at the car he’s about to drive across the country. I try not to get maudlin about how thin he looked in his jeans. I try not to imagine meeting him as his first love. I try not to yearn for him retroactively. Everything that’s happened in your life has led up to now, I scold myself.
And there’s the privacy of his past. He and the mother of his daughter, lying in bed on the same pillow, staring up at the camera. The Polaroids of her, skin turned sepia and green from the film, where she’s naked, hands on her hips, tracking the progress at four months, six months, eight months, and smiling. A baby growing. A mother growing. A family.
We’ve gone through the moves of conscious coupling. We’re often together and sit side-by-side in silence, working and reading. He presses his face into the back of my neck and sighs with so much contentedness that I lay awake at night, searching for the glow of my thighs as I look at how I would prick them with his pen-knife. Sometimes I think he isn’t thinking of me at all, while I’m thinking of him all the time.
Ginger Ko is the author of Motherlover from Bloof Books, and her chapbook Inherit is also from Bloof. Her chapbook Comorbid is forthcoming from Lark Books. She is currently a PhD student at the University of Georgia’s creative writing program.