When We Meet

Mermaid 1 - Copy

by Olivia Somes

You ask me about the weather,
I shake you and yell don’t be afraid of me.

You cup my jaws with your hands
and hit my nose with your forehead.

I ask: is it in the weather?
You admit I can only open up to those I’ve hurt

Then you bare it all like the ribs of a starving child.
You were waiting for me for so long and me you.

You tell me that you love your children
but hate their company.

I say don’t feel guilty. They feel the same.
You confess about your mother,

about the times she locked you in the closet
with a flashlight and a copy of Charlotte’s Web.

You tell me how the outside sounded exactly
like giant crickets beating against wood.

I tell you my mother beat me my entire childhood.
You use some analogy about how her cigarette burns

are akin to a mama cat picking her kid up
by the neck: she was picking you up from the world.

You rub my back. I cry and disagree:
no she just hated my company,

at least your mother had good taste in books.
We embrace and I love the mango smell of your hair.

I decide to buy mango conditioner instead of strawberry.
You get jealous of my curls and tell me right away;

I don’t want us to be those people
who bury envy behind diets

You say I am jealous of how your hair curls
like ice cream and smells like strawberries
I tell you I am jealous of your eyes
that are like peacock feathers in milk

Right at that moment we make a pact:
jealousy with us means love and love means honesty.

We make many pacts after the first one:
never fake laugh at each other’s jokes
never use hinting as a form of communication
never ask mundane questions to break the ice

The next day we look each other in the eyes
and already know how we both feel about the weather
and you ask how I am and I tell you the truth.

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