Inspired by Sound: I don't love you, but I always will

    This is part four of our series called “Inspired By Sound,” where writers use a song as the muse for their story. This piece, by Paola de Varona, takes influence from “Poison and Wine” by the Civil Wars.

    Your wine-soaked lips dripped with words that you clutched tightly to your chest.

    I could hear them muffled through the echo of water on beds of rock as we snuck inhibited glances at our palms, two inches apart, resting on grains of sand. Our chests were facing the line where blackness melted into bruised waves. We’d pretend that line stretched longer than the Atlantic.

    My lips moving with absence of words. Your lips dangerously close to my bare shoulders. Feeling my breaths tangle at the top of my throat and the restlessness of a late July midnight in the middle of May.

    Like how one reaches for the sheets in the middle of a balmy, summer night, as beads of sweat cling to the curve of our lower backs, I reached for you as I felt the chill of a breeze through a single cracked window.

    You reach instead for your back, as you pull your cotton t-shirt over your shoulders and throw it onto the ground between us, beside the bottle of merlot – laying heavy like a question.

    Poison or wine?

    Reaching for my hips, I slide the top above my head, staring staunchly at the water as my skin burns under the moonlight and the white lightning of your eyes.

    Poison or wine?

    Now our feet are racing down the cold sand as our clothing sheds like skin haphazardly behind us. I scream as the water pierces first our feet, then thighs and chests, while we plunge our bodies into the sharpness of a million needles.

    Poison or wine?

    Your lips find the curve of my collarbone, searching for a place to rest. Pausing below the ear, listening to our make-believe ocean. I can feel my legs singe under the touch of your palms, tracing the lines another once made claim to. Pull me closer, like a firefly to lamplight. Ask it all – ask all that’s been on your mind.

    Poison or wine?

    Wine is dependable. It keeps you warm even when words leave you frozen in Silence: it speaks in novels, combinations of words we've never thought to say, left softly laying on the thin thread between our quivering lips. Wine, it holds our hands like a stranger at a funeral, like the warmth of a faux fireplace.

    The endless supply of a crafted fire, one always found in aisle five of the supermarket.

    Poison is rare. Or, really, it’s all around us. In the silica gel packets within our coats. In the pills we take to numb the pain. In the wine we drink too much of. In the boy you so desperately want to touch, but know to do so would be fatal.

    Poison is your fingers tangled in my luminescent, wet hair. It’s your honeyed, beach-burnt eyes and palms like aloe on my sun-blazed soul.

    We shy away from the things we want most because they lacerate us – they scorch the backs of our throats as we down them. Poison is the hope that a warning label is wrong, that maybe this time there’s no need to worry for toxins.

    I’ll find my poison in your wine-soaked lips. I’ll let them drown mine with their bitter, dry taste just so I can feel the high of being held in freezing lake waters. Of being looked at as new. Of seeing the sun rise above a city still asleep, a sun only rising for our hungry eyes. The high of being wanted.

    Poison can’t flick the switch on this dark house.

    Poison can’t fill my windows with full kitchen dinner tables and laughter that melts like lemon lozenge candy kisses in the night.

    Neither can the wine.

    I wrap my legs around your waist, the water is at a standstill.

    Your mouth is poison, your mouth is wine.

    I don't have a choice, but I'd still choose you.


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