looking for you (daphne gottlieb)
It started that night, that night when you asked, "would you love me if I got my hair cut?'
I said, You're beautiful no matter what.
And you smiled. you always had a beautiful smile.
You went to sleep in my arms and the next day came back with a very fashonalbe-though extreme-haircut.
And you said, "Do you still love me?"
And I said, of course I do.
You looked so beautiful and you smiled your beautiful smile only a little smaller and you asked me "Would you love me if I was bald?"
And I said, of course-- bald is something time does to men and bald is how nature begins babies and we're all bald under our hair and anyway you're beautiful and I love you.
And you smiled your beautiful smile and fell asleep in my arms.
The next night as I licked your beautiful, naked head, you asked, "Would you love me if I had no ears?"
And I said, of course-- ears are only good for hanging earrings on and holding glasses up; unless they're our joke and I made my fingers into bunny ears and you hopped sideways in the bed.
I told you: what's important is on the inside, and your smile turned up like a hook with something caught on the end of it.
Your smile sharpened like a key into a knife.
You smiled in your sleep all night long and it was still a beautiful smile.
Thankfully you still had ears when you came home the next day, but that was the day you began taking parts of you away anyway. You took me seriously about the importance of inside, and you took them away, the insides.
Our jokes went first-- I made my bunny ears and you didn't hop.
Then our memories-- I'd remind you of our jokes and you'd smile your beautiful smile and just say "Oh."
"I don't remember."
Then your habits, your hours, your appearance, your clothing.
Finally, you changed your address, smiling your beautiful smile.
I put my bunny ear fingers behind my head, told you I love you, no matter what. Remember, it's wat's on the inside that counts.
You said, "What insides?" and "I don't remember."
Then you walked out.
Since then everything changed but your smile, I go looking for your smile every night, on other faces, with other names. Whispering what was your name into what I hope is your mouth, I pry my fingers into mouth after mouth, body after body, whispering Are you there?
I find glimpses of you here and there, shards of your smile, and I kiss all of them, love all of them, I collect them up like small broken things, waiting to gather them all together and bring you back. I hold these fragments close to me every night, and I whisper to them.
I remember. And I'll always love you. No matter what.