and I still can’t get the taste of strawberries out my mouth

 

I TRY NOT TO THINK ABOUT IT!
the knuckles you bleed from (the ones I try to kiss as much as I can)
stain the bathroom countertops a deep red.
A RED that I TRY NOT TO THINK ABOUT,
but nevertheless a red that tastes like the mutilated bullets in the wall &
the wild strawberries on my tongue.
         I promised you that I wouldn’t question why there are knives hidden underneath our pillows,
         but you have noise cancelling headphones & blackout curtains & twenty two blankets
         instead of a .22 caliber gun & our guard dog (a mutt that tries its best) & you have me.
         I promised you that I would work with you / A PROMISE that I TRY NOT TO THINK ABOUT,
         but the bed, a Shangri-la of health & privacy & sustenance is now translated from
         the luxuriant, fraudulent rainforests of our honeymoon in Sri Lanka
         to the crude, honest sands of the front lines you try so desperately to liberate.
Your tongue is swollen in your mouth, teeth incoherently chewing & chewing & chewing!
bred from my hands are copious dinners, meals of fat & proteins & carbohydrates
& All you want to eat is your tongue / A TENDENCY that I TRY NOT TO THINK ABOUT,
but we cannot sit at this dinner table any longer. We cannot sit at this table
without you gagging on your supper, or stabbing the salad fork through your plate,
or slashing the knife through the ghost of the enemy behind you & I am sorry
but I cannot THINK ABOUT THIS.
         I don’t know where you go when you disappear.
         I hear you leave at midnight, bus ticket tightly stitched to the inner pocket of your jeans & I
         hear you materialize at dawn, cautious to slip out of your boots (the ones that have suffered
         through two & a half tours) /
         cautious to leave a tender kiss on my forehead that still gives me butterflies in my stomach
         despite the fact that you are the most vulnerable part of the man I fell in love with.
         I cry to the wads of cash taped underneath the kitchen sink &
         stuff lists of ammunition down my bra (pray that they are not your grocery list,
         pray that your green thumb has not bewitched the similarly greedy hands of Death.)
         I tuck the love notes you leave me into a pair of shoes I DO NOT wear
         because your red words DO NOT mean shit when they coexist with your bloodied Andrew  
         Jackson — the face of A MAN that I TRY NOT TO THINK ABOUT
         but see in every ounce of green.
You are cheating on me with the night, one hell of a free woman that will let you scream &
whimper, without drilling into your skull shades of everything will be okay &
no one else in this world wants to hurt you. But people in this world want to hurt you,
& since your dishonorable discharge I have discovered that I am a liar.
I understand her stars taste better than the 1973 Chardonnay you spilled at our wedding,
that whatever nourishing drug she is feeding you gives you the strength to breathe & hunt,
but DO NOT shut me out. DO NOT kiss me on the forehead if you can live without me.
I hope you are happy with the night, A WOMAN that I TRY NOT TO THINK ABOUT
but inevitably recognize every time the comfort of the sun lands below the surface of the Earth.
         I TRY NOT TO THINK ABOUT IT!
         the knuckles you bleed from (the ones I tried to kiss as much as I could)
         stain the skin on my cheeks a deep red
         A RED that I TRY NOT TO THINK ABOUT,
         but nevertheless a red that tastes like the mutilated bullets in my body &
         the wild strawberries that fell from my hands.

Sarah Lewis