Over dinner I told you about the boy
I had almost killed. I said I was eight.
So I lied. I was thirteen. I told you
I had told nobody about it before you,
right in the middle of the crowded diner
just then. So I lied. I had told two or three
people. There had been others. I told you
he grabbed my backpack at the bus stop
and swung it over a creek in the rain.
So I lied. The sky was empty. I told you
I had wanted only to scare him, that I
was a hundred feet away when I threw
the stick. So I lied. I was thirty feet
away. I told you the stick grazed
his face like a brushfire, I told you
he had seven stitches in his left cheek.
So I lied. There had been seventeen.
I better watch out, you said, laughing but
a little nervous, nodding toward your car.
Now I’m on a plane headed for a place
that doesn’t speak your language, and
I wish I could conjure a phrase from these
clouds floating by like wisps of an old lady’s
hair, but I’ve forgotten the point…
a moment ago the stewardess asked me
if everything was all right, and I told her yes.
So I lied. How can I say everything is
all right if I can’t even remember
what it was I had wanted so badly to say?
This, right now, is all I can remember:
watching you, that day, as you stared at me
through the rearview mirror—your lips
tight, as if whatever crazy thing I did next
was a bigger threat than the angry
traffic. I don’t know what to say to you
when I’m ten time zones away, I don’t know
what I’ll do here alone—maybe my bones
will crumble to dust and descend
to the bottom of the sea.
So I’m lying. Probably I’ll do nothing. So
I’m lying. Probably I will meet somebody else.
But right now (this distance is making me dizzy)
there is something I want to tell you. It had
something to do with these clouds—something
to do with the truth.