What Belongs

The room is crowded when he says your heart still belongs to someone else, and it makes me feel lonely in a way there are no words for, to think that other man might still have pieces of me, and so I settle instead for just my head on someone else’s shoulder, settle instead for the compliment of that stranger at the bar, the one who tells me I’m pretty in a way that makes me feel nothing, settle instead some days for just the hand of a man holding my own, even though we don’t fit together at all.

I think instead of that tree in my old front yard, the one that belonged there, the one whose roots kept pushing up the lawn and buckling the concrete of the sidewalk, the one I had wanted to uproot, though I had loved its shade, loved standing beneath it, even when it made the walkways treacherous, even when it covered the lawn each fall in leaves, all that, just another mess to me to fix.

Think too that he was like that tree, except that the roots of a heart are arteries and veins, and I can still feel him there, even in the blood rushing out to my fingertips, the ones that had threaded their way through his hair, that had held his body to mine. When you uproot a tree from the lawn, it still leaves a hole. How then, do you uproot a man when he has taken up space inside you? What kind of wounds would that leave?

Your heart still belongs to someone else, he tells me, and I want to tell him no, want to remind him of the night I had fit his mouth to mine, want to remind him of all the things I choose to love instead, each day, sunlight, each day, trees, each day wind over rooftops and a small boy’s laughter, each day, books and home, each day, the sound of the boy’s breathing in sleep, each day, toads and moon and stars in blackness. Each day, I choose to love something, and it is not that man. I want to tell him no, my heart belongs to no one but me.

And I do not wish to give it up.

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