It wasn’t in the bottom of the mug,
The one I studied, swirling tea leaves and
Lies in tight spirals.
It wasn’t in the texts or chats or calls.
I scoured the words and dredged your
Voicemails, each pause a klaxon:
The absence of us.
I looked between the torn pages of
That calfskin journal you tossed so absently,
The one that sliced the air and split my ego,
Hand-scrawled missives, doodles,
A few pious tear stains, someone else’s name.
It wasn’t there either. Not hiding in the margins,
Or twisted between the words Love and Dreamy.
What does that even mean?
I wonder sometimes when it’s darkening,
When the air chills and I bundle
Tightly with hope embers warming
My twilight dreams,
If perhaps you’ve misplaced it.
Something so rare, so personal, so elusive.
Did you leave it on our beach,
The one where we dipped our toes and fears
Below the churning froth?
Did you leave it at the cabin,
The one where stories by the fire became
Eulogies of a past we shed like
Moths before flame?
Did you leave it in the backseat of that car,
The one with fogged up windows and
Half-empty beer bottles clinking
And swaying in time to another’s metronome?
That must be it. Where it fell. Where it lingers still.
I asked for it. You said you already gave it.
Did you really? Is it in the pauses? The silence? The dial tone?
I’ve tried to listen, but all I hear is the
Squeal of extinguished embers
As they sputter and split one last time
Like those overcooked marshmallows you dashed into the fire
Or the charred remnants of the quesadilla I butchered in your kitchen.
If you find it somewhere, I guess I’ll listen.
I mean, it’s the least, or perhaps the most I could do.
If you find it languishing on the bed at his house
Or hiding in the closet,
Or buried under the tears I never saw you shed.
If I had to guess, it wasn’t really there.
None of it.
Least of all an apology.