Things might have been different, but they could not have been better. -J.R.R. Tolkien, “Leaf by Niggle”
I met you in a foreign land, where you told me
I am what could have been.
Around us the rain fell in shades of lavender and cool blue
bubbles that popped on contact with our skin.
The air smelled of spring hyacinths when the points
of the buds poke an inch out of the ground the week before Easter,
and also of the manure surrounding the hyacinths,
and also of the winter barns where cows stand, and their tails
slowly swish the blue air against imaginary flies feasting
on imaginary manure.
When I heard you, I replied,
This is different from the poem I dreamed last night.
I touched your icicle fingers and they melted in my hand. The smell
of hyacinths intensified. I shivered
when you fell back a step behind me.
I am a different person than you wanted me to be.
Your voice in the air tasted blue and lavender.
Your teeth came to small points
where they poked through your gums like
hyacinths in the winter. A fly landed on my shoulder.
I brushed the fly away and it turned into petals drifting down.
They dissolved into tears when they touched my cheeks.
I suddenly remembered the poem from my dream,
but it never had any words. Just the colors and the cool rain,
which led us out of where we used to be and into what we would become.
So I knew how to respond, finally.
When I opened my mouth, you were gone.