Before I met you I was busy building my own mythology. I was writing it in the fashion of a grocery list. Forgetful and graceless bustling through the aisles of the tiny store. Skipping over important items and picking up dark chocolate by the register. I threw everything haphazardly together out of fear that I would run out of time. Whatever ending I was walking towards, I wanted it to make sense.
I start with baptism. Blood and water: blood of a lamb and water running from the garden faucet. I fit a name under my tongue.
I’ve been at this painting for months. It goes like this: a tree laden with nearly ripe figs, a rotten orange in the fridge, dried roses tied with yellow string. No matter which corner I start with it ends up looking the same.
I write our first meeting as a yarn ball: we cross paths a thousand times. In one of these we are both trees. In another we are strangers who smile at each other and never meet again. I tie the strings in strange places, ugly knots that I go over many times over. At night I undo the careful work. I go back and untie the threads so that I can start again in the morning. I am Ulysses sneaking back in at night to undo the tapestry himself, buying a little time until I am ready to come home. I will write it again until it is all beautiful, until the table is set and the kitchen is clean and the plants are watered and after you read it you don’t feel like crying.
I know love is real, and I know it is forever. I know it is real because when I smell orange blossom water, I am reminded of the scarf my grandma would soak in it and wrap around her head in the summer. And how when I had a fever, she would do the same with a cloth and then lay it across my forehead and closed eyes like a blessing. I know love is forever because in a box in my childhood home I have a dried flower I was once given on Valentine’s day by someone I no longer know. If I hold it to the light, I can remember its exact colour.
I see you in the lilacs blooming just as summer dies, in the first sweet clementine, in the evenings when the sky is that bright blue colour right before the sun sets. In Sunday mornings when the light flickers in warm orange squares on my wall and my cup of coffee is perfect. I see you in the love I have for everybody who isn’t you. Often, I feel like the universe is holding me in its warm cupped hands, and I know it is your work.
Your love asks me to put down the tapestry and go to sleep. It cooks me a warm meal and sets down a plate for me to eat. It busies my senses and hands. I let go of the strange story I was attempting to write myself into. I no longer need a mythology. Every letter I write is a love letter, the words are simple and kind and useful. Untouched, the tapestry grows at night, hills by the sea and deep green forests and cabins in snowy mountains.
This is the way it will end: I am walking you through a garden where I point at things and name them again and again and again and again. We are walking through this garden and its seasons keep changing and I am pointing at the same growing/rotting things and telling you their names. Over and over you pretend to be surprised. We look at the growing fruit trees and the wet grass. When you call my name I know you are putting language to my soul the same way I am laying its heavy weight on every ripe fruit and every growing branch.