The Cactus

There’s a cactus in the kitchen, and no one ever waters it except the man who never wants me as much as I want him, and the week the cactus finally dies I think we do too. Like some root that fails to take hold even when I water it with tears.


I don’t know what he wants for his future, but I’m certain it isn’t me, and in those first five days of silence I will wonder if, like the husband, he’s dead somewhere, or if, like that other, it will be a year and a half before I hear his voice again, something startling in a parking lot, a face he’d never see again if he could choose, if this one will be another in a series of unanswered leavings my lips will fumble over in future years, or if this time I might get to say goodbye. But I don’t know what to say after those five days except that it reminds me of the months in my former home when a broken man kept to his bed and no one spoke my name. How I was a ghost long before he was, something pale and looming in doorways or shuffling through hallways, only the baby left to know I was still alive. 


“I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with that” I text him, those five days of silence, because I have lived it before, learning to be invisible, my words as insubstantial as air, me that cactus, drowning in need.


In the kitchen, I unearth the broken plant, feel the needle tips with my fingers, touch that small green body, that black dirt, those two years I might have been his but he had not been mine. 


Feel now, just there, the weight of things.


How they crumble in my palm.

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