What I Can't Say

Leah Dyer


It was a relief to be able to say something. Finally, to be allowed to say something when I felt restraint would make me burst. It was hard to breathe after he'd said it to me; my jaw muscles ached from so much smiling. But, I could not be the first. Certain amounts of time have to pass; the dating forms must be obeyed. It's a dance -- step here, not there, lightly here, that was your foot wasn't it? Test the water; stir it with manicured toes. I was ecstatic, but what if IT wasn't exactly what I wanted to say?

I rein myself in. Three words are all I say -- three wonderful, socially acceptable words. Overused, tame words that merely label my affection with an impersonal expression. Yet, these words, washed-out like favorite blue jeans are the notes the person warming my sheets wants to hear. He waits. He needs to hear them. Disappointment would follow if the predictable, reflexive syllables were not provided. But, what if IT isn't exactly what I want to say?

Refusing to sell the originality of myself for three words, I've been torched in battle, torn down, left for dead. Pain is an integral part of life. I march on, bolder, the colors around me more brilliant. Choosing to enjoy the fact that I still live, to demand an equal, to bloom despite the risk of eternal drought...Can three words express hope in a weathered frame?

The sound of his car keys and change, still in the pocket of his pants, hitting the wall in the dark is precious, never to be faithfully reproduced again. His skin smells like home. I believe in his laughter. His eyes are an open doorway. Can three words express what I'm reaching for? If not, why say them at all? Simply because there is nothing more suitable to say?

More. I want to express more than three words can touch. I want to set my cravings in concrete.

See me. See what I am when the walls are gone, see what I mean. See what I can't say. Hungry for him to know me, I devour him with fingers and lips. My body is an extension of my will. It speaks best when I'm the most frightened. Sitting in the back of my mouth is a poet with a flaming sword, but she plays favorites. The same three words slip by her feet again and again. I feel stifled. I allow myself to be placated. What bubbles beneath my surfaces, what he sets loose in me, scares me.

I have discovered more than three words in myself, and I would give all of myself to never find the end of him. The end of me does not exist. Can three words, half a beat of my heart, capture and hold this forever?


© Leah Dyer


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