Haiku [Red x Clay]
I think he has begun to look at me differently. Not as someone who has come and will go, but someone who has no use for leaving. No reason to leave.
No desire to.
He’s a hard man to convince of anything, but the hardest fights are always emotional. Not that he’s emotional- no, that’s never the case. It’s always when I’m trying to make him feel something, or worse, when I’m trying to force him to admit that he’s already feeling it. The idea that anything has made it through his shiny, icy veneer is perhaps the greatest insult of all. For a man so obsessed with being invulnerable, he never seemed to realize how much he had turned vulnerability itself into the most effective weapon against him.
This is a man who is always ready for an attack, even when his opponent enters unarmed.
I don’t want to attack him, but he doesn’t want to believe me.
I think I’m getting through to him, a little. I think he’s letting me in, a little.
I don’t think he understands how much light that crack in the door covers me with. I am a sea of wildflowers, feeling the sun for the first time. The clouds break and I know warmth again. The smallest acceptance into his world has meant more than a thousand men begging me to stay.
Tonight he has invited me to his office. He says the school doesn’t have any space for him, so he keeps his office just off-campus. I think it’s because he wanted to avoid the cubicle everyone else gets. I assume he pays for this place, but I don’t ask. I don’t ask much.
A studio space inside of a larger complex, the room is decorated relatively modestly. Clay clearly chooses where to spend his money, and it has been mostly on having the most expensive feeling set of couch and chairs throughout. A tall bookshelf sits on either side of the desk at the head of the room, all of which were made out of that stuff you find in the thirty-percent-off furniture section at Wal-Mart. The lighting is dim, papers and portfolios litter the floor, and half-empty bottles of wine encircle his oversized desk chair.
He left me alone here today, hoping I’d sit quietly and wait for him to come back of course. It wasn’t often he left me by myself when I came to visit, but it had seemed to be something important. I had already tried to convince myself not to snoop, not to investigate anything too thoroughly, to let him continue to come me as he was ready to do so.
But then twenty minutes rolled by, then an hour. Sitting on his couches and scrolling through my phone only got through me an hour and a half. After that, I took his seat behind the desk and got comfortable. Again, I didn’t want to go through his things. At first I just wanted to sit in his chair, imagine how it feels when he’s watching me jabber at him, striking all those red lines through his student’s papers. Then, I became a little more curious in what all those students were writing, and if it was really all so bad.
That was when I found it. At first, I tried to tell myself it was nothing. At first, I tried to tell myself it was one of his students. That it didn’t sound like him. I tried to make excuses for how the writing didn’t look quite right, how it couldn’t have been his hand.
Those were all lies. It was so clearly him, heavy at all the points, penmanship as sharp as his breath in my ear. I don’t think he’d ever intended for me to see it, and I can’t imagine a future where he would show it to me, admitting I ever inspired such a thing.
Perhaps it seems such a small gesture. Perhaps it seems nothing, a passing thought or a moment he had.
For me, it might as well have been a love letter. He may as well have been on his knees before me, looking into my eyes, telling me.
A poem, a work of his art, of his hand, written because of me. About me. For me.
It was, just upon reading it, like feeling his hand around mine. It was like feeling him look at me and say, “I see you. I see the parts of you that hurt. I hurt when you hurt, even if that scares me.”
These are things he would never say. Even trying to imagine them truly coming from his mouth seems somehow strange and unnatural. But this little gesture, these twenty-six syllables, say more than all that ever would. This gesture, too, is more than I had ever imagined I would receive.
Maybe one day he’ll even say he loves me back.
( haiku written/illustrated by Ronnie )