Impeccable Words

You like your things perfect, impeccable—or so I’ve heard you say. Things like your shirt collar, your ankle cuff, my hair. There’s no margin for error when you balance the world just above your palm, an inch out of reach yet always just there. Everything you want hovers a breath beyond your fingertips, and on days like this I’m added to that list.

Or, “perfect me” is added to that list. The one with loose strands and loose lips nestles nicely into your outstretched hand, but the one you reach for, the one who’s impeccable just like you like is just out of range. Just beyond a sputtered apology and half-drunk excuse and bashful never mind. Just beyond the space between your past and your now, your then and your this.

Because impeccable me is something you’ve imagined, and impeccable words are something I can’t speak. My aims for impeccable words sound like “I’m sorry” and “I love you” and “Forgive me” and “Kiss me.” Hear my impeccable words tell you I’m yours and ignore them because my tone has never been quite pitch perfect.

There was a day when I could have been perfect and oh, you should have seen me then. It was a lifetime and a lashing ago and you would have loved me for real, then. I had barely learned to speak, let alone how to use my imperfect words to make you bleed. I had barely learned to walk, let alone how to turn on my heel. I had barely learned to love, let alone how to suffer. Oh, you should have seen me then.

Attempts at impeccable words coming out of me sound too much like “I’m hurt and I hate you” and “I’m sad and I need you;” how could I not know they’ll never be perfect for you? So tell me then, be the one who knows everything: to fail at your expectation or waste away in silence as you unravel mine?

This much is real and imperfect and raw: each word I make for you is as true as a moment can be, often truer than the last but not as true as the next. You shift and I fall and I change my mind and the words come out differently when you crane your neck to listen than when you shrug your shoulders to dismiss. But I try, because I’d rather aim for impeccable and fail in great fashion than tie up my tongue so that you alone can feel perfect.

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More like this in my book of words that were better left unsaid, Things I Would Say

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