Finitely Many

I have heard twice or more now, stories from friends about girlfriends who demanded sweet emails daily. One forced himself to write poetry every day, one coded a “sweet email” generator, and I, as the laziest person you will ever meet, have written this one poem that (one hopes) might excuse me from the assignment altogether. Do you find my solution elegant? Read on, and feel free to use it as your own if this situation should ever plague you. I think it may cleverly also absolve you from ever using the words “I love you”.

There are finitely many words, my dear
that I can ever say to you
and finitely many again,
that I can ever hear

So if I’m silent, if I’m gone
If you haven’t heard from me in far too long
please take comfort
please, I beg you’ll remember why
remember this of finite lists:
there will always be a last

I desperately, so desperately, my darling
don’t want to run out
I don’t want to meet our last word, no

Everything I see, I see through your eyes and mine
Every thing entreats me, “Share me,
I will delight, you two will grow closer.
Share me, show me, tell my story.”

But I will resist, I will hide,
I won’t say a word.
It’s only because (deep down)
I fear

the day when we run out

Think of me as just a petty miser
Each word I speak bringing me closer…

to losing you

If only I could see how many words remain
Then I could say it once (just once)
My last words to you — though I’m sure you knew —
instead of maudlin goodbyes…

(I love you)

Just two drinks

Just two drinks and the world opened up

The rain, the jellyfish, the rainbow scepter raised high

Halloween in the quarter, your costume mirroring mine

Your mask won’t hide where your eyes wander

They find me over and over and over

I didn’t want to leave right then, please know.

I didn’t want to go.

It’s only just, I understand

I can’t give you what you want — I wish

I wish I wish I could

(I can’t)

So all of this? I’ll never let you know

I shall only — for your sake — let you go.

Mock death note

As promised here, this is what I would say in a letter to my cat, Cecilia.


Dear Cecilia, Cece, Miu Miu, kitton,

Oh my darling crook face, I’m sorry I’ve gone away now. Do you believe in duality? If it comforts you, I hope you do. If my mind is floating in the Ether, somewhere in heaven or hell or stuck forever in between, know that regardless, I am thinking about you and your crazed blue eyes. How you made me laugh every day with your scampering, your hunting meow, that unbelievably fluffy tail and the way you would nose your bowl halfway across the apartment in your enthusiasm for dry kibbles.

It’s morning now, and you would be curled on the back of your chair — the only place with a few beams of sunlight. Don’t miss me though, don’t think about me at all. I can’t stand the thought that my absence will affect you badly. I’ll leave instructions to have P come every day to hold you until you’re bored of purring. I’ll make sure there are fun bits of trash strewn about for you to bat. I’ll tell them to leave shipping boxes and their packing entrails around for at least a week. And, best of all? I’ll order a fake sink on legs so you can sleep in that and never again have to move because silly humans need the sink for unimportant things.

How were you so soft? I would carry you around, all day, forever if I could. If you’d let me. From the tiny kitten confused about her own bell collar to this daredevil, scaling the kitchen heights — I wish I could be there to see the rest of your story. Will you learn to be coy and sit in the same room but pretend not to notice people? Will you become a lap cat, seeking out the person most allergic to you? Whoever you become, I know that you will enchant everyone you meet with your naive and rather derpy sweetness. Maybe someday you will be ambassador of family felidae. I wish I could hold you one last time, and blink-blink-blink until we both fall asleep. I may be gone but never fear, someone will try to love you as much as I do. Let them, love them, dream in your sunbeam.

A million and a half kisses,

Too much bed

I can’t sleep

There’s too much bed in my bed

When I reach, just more cool sheets

No ribs, no arms, no tummy

My foot sprawls wide and finds no warmth

No foot or calf or thigh

There are no sounds but foghorns

No one snoring, breathing, snuffling

No one rolling in for cuddling

How does anyone sleep

With this much bed in bed



You’re clever, so I will never send you this letter. I expect you to derive everything I’ve written here from our conversations, and from things I’ve merely implied.

You fall out of love because the more you learn, the more reality diverges from your idealisations. So see me. Really see me, and not just the me you imagined because I’m beautiful. It isn’t what I want. If that is why you like me, then stop.

I find reasons. I am an expert. I hold on to any hint of something illogical or nonsensical or upsetting about you that I can use to make myself stop. Doing so makes me feel like I’m in control of something I am terrified of. Of feeling something and losing myself in it. Of feeling something and being torn to shreds when it doesn’t last. Of feeling anything at all. Because it’s just too easy. It’s easy for me to feel. It takes discipline to think until I’m steady again. Until I’m not falling. But I’ve practiced a long time, so I think I’m quite good. It’s second nature now. I’ve nearly convinced myself of my own invincibility. Do not, do not, try my defenses. Won’t work.

Almost all of our days together have caused an internal battle. I had to remind myself that you’re a monster. That you’re a hunter. The very worst kind, who easily fells prey then leaves it to rot, prancing after the next kill. That you’re recklessly trying to drown in any semblance of a feeling you can muster because you can barely feel things at all. There’s nothing that extinguishes your desire faster than getting what you want. Because, in essence, what you live for is the exquisite split second before winning, but that is all you want.

Forget it. You’ll never catch me. I suspect that will make you hunt me, want me, dream of me forever. Don’t. Just see me, really see me and all those thoughts will die. I’m not as flawless as you’ve imagined. Boring, stubborn, grumpy, never satisfied, sarcastic, jealous, demanding and dominant. Let your image of me fade. I’ve already told you, encore et toujours, in every possible way that I can’t love. Especially not… Especially not you. No. You know I don’t believe in it like you do — you’re a zealot and you give long speeches. I have seen too much to believe. So let go of your misguided wish to be closer to me in every way. Tell your foolish heart to be quiet.  Then we can be friends — really just friends — and learn so much more from each other.

Now that I’ve told you twice, and if you count this time, three times (oh, probably more), I will proceed to ignore you until I think you’ve understood and stopped loving me, you silly child.

(Disclaimer: This is part of the letter series)


We used to tell each other on bad days, “nevermind, let’s just run away to Hogwarts together.” The attraction to villains started early. Draco was darling, so dating a true sociopath wasn’t unthinkable. Monsters are the sweetest when they care. I guess it’s just that it’s so rare. Nevermind that as well. Makes it even more special.

In the sweltering heat of the southern summer, you’re showing me how to live. I admire your optimism: that even being short on food has a bright side. Because you refuse to compromise your own happiness, you will have actually lived. I’m afraid I’ve let catered lunches and comfortable couches be my soporific, lulling me into a half-existence. Any interesting thought, creative idea or pleasure to pursue has been put just out of reach by the paralytic of a day job.

Thanks to you and the example you’ve set for me, I am slowly waking up. I still think how grand it would be to take off with you into the blue. Where next? South Africa? Belize? London? Reykjavik? Forget success, forget leaving a legacy, forget any glory or honor. If I have a drive, it’s to have enough to just fly off with you like this: today a thought, tomorrow a fact.

(Disclaimer: This is part of the letter series)


Dear X,

We both dispensed with actual numbers long ago. But here are a few of ours.

Days spent together, in total, overall, ever: 5
Times we talked before I knew I liked you: 1
Times we talked before you knew you liked me: 0
Distance (in feet) between our hotel doors: 8
Number of times I thought about you the day after I got home: 57
Number of letters I wrote and sent you: 1
Number of letters I wrote for you that weren’t meant to be read: 4
Months it took me to get over you: 7

You set my mind alight and if life were a novel or a feel-good movie, our stories would’ve merged and continued as one. But you were already where you were meant to be. So you, bright star, are only a footnote in my maudlin tale. And I conclude that there can be no meaning to the words “right” and “wrong” — or at least that my estimation is so off that it’s useless.

(Disclaimer: This is part of the letter series)