A Night Terror for Nick

by Desiree Browne

Now I lay me down to sleep,
And dream of the of the boy I couldn’t keep.
His lips forever gone from mine
But he gon’ hear all about himself this time.

Standing tall and strong, I’ve tears no more.
I’m telling him the reasons it shoulda been me
Showing his pasty ass the door.

Outside our circle of light there’s a flash,
Now I hold a cigarette with a long, long ash.
I press the cig into his skin,
His eyes beg me not to do it again.
I go to make just one more burn
But snap awake, and my stomach does a turn.

Was that inside my heart all along?
I’m scared of me
But I don’t know for sure
That dream girl was wrong.

 

And This Is How You Love Me

I knew he liked me because he shared his music with me, and I knew I really liked him when I
realized he loved music deep and wide the way I do. His mix CDs brought me Black Starr; we
swapped our favorite recordings of the standards we learned in jazz class; I explained how
Rachmaninoff lulled me to sleep some nights and that Prince woke up something inside me that
was ferocious and unafraid. We sat down, opened our CD books and played our hearts for each
other.

A heady adolescent summer mellowed to occasional check-ins as adults, even after he got
married. Still, when I think of what I love most about being in love it’s just that—love. The
frenzied pace of swapping mix CDs and download links for the music that feels so intensely
yours, played with the speakers turned all the way up and the car windows rolled all the way
down. As an adult, I long for the electricity of teenage infatuation tempered by hard-earned
wisdom. I want to watch my baby’s eyes light up when talking about the book that changed
everything. I want to see you hug parents, childhood friends, the dog you grew up with. Have
you gotten so lost in the work that feeds you, you didn’t call when you said you would? I can be
mad for a minute, but then I’ll want to hear what you were working on, how far you got. Does it
feel good? Are you proud of yourself?

And I want you to know that if I open my kitchen to you, I’m letting you sample of a little bit of
what’s closest to my own heart, like the love of my grandma who got up at 7 am on Sundays to
cut open coconuts for their milk because canned wasn’t good enough for her family. The look of
wonder on my mom’s face as she bookmarked new recipes from Bon Appetite and then
presented them to her friends at the wine club meetings she modeled after her mother’s bridge
club. Of my father who can’t cook much but always cut my peanut butter and jelly
sandwiches—always on toast—into quarters for me. The love I have learned to carefully
prepare for myself: a Sunday dinner for one, soundtracked by an album on vinyl I think you’d
really like.

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