I want love the way a single breeze makes all of summer bearable. Dryly washes warm from minds. Heat off shoulders. Tickled sunlight into nibbling instead of gnawing. I want love. Outward. Give. The way I want to live. Kind of already caught up in it and maintaining a status quo before I even know what it really is I really have to live for. Three. Two. One way I love is by biting my tongue. Quetitude. Silace. I brood. Like I just bit a lemon. Clearly thinking all about how I feel about it. But it isn’t citrus, is it? Love. Four letters. Three forms. Two directions. And one great big excuse to crowd out all other excuses. You’re never let off over-easy again. Hard time. Still not hard. Like boiled eggs. Soft as hell. Still stiffer than calcium cradled saliva clear and sunlight yellow centered. Hard time. Beneath a salt shaker. For bites. Three’s the leftovers. Too left over. One rotten stomach. I want to love the way Pepto-Bismol coats the throat and pink lines the gut like in those commercials. I want to be sick. Just so I can take medicine for it.
Love, all dressed up in words, is still naked as a jaybird. I do not believe it is possible to love in an instant. The same way a river does not form from a single rain.
Recognize love by these two traits:
It can’t be shaken off.
And, you will try.
Still laughs like a little girl
Where comets come from. Yes, you are brighter than any star in the sky
and you have a magnificent tail. But I’d love to know where you dwell.
Should you choose to take me there. Until then, I know you’re a sign.
Of something. Beautiful. And terrible. All by your lonesome.
You’re a volatile couple. Ashley. Americanized Cinderella.
Do I know how you hate that. But we love you for it. Honey.
I need you. More than I have ever let you know.
This has all been for you.
In hopes you’d give some back to us. You’re American.
You’re British. You’re Scottish. And gypsy. And arrogant.
You are America.
You are the cloth high up on the mast that catches new wind first.
Before the sails that push the ship even.
You move your own direction. Respect.
Head nod. Eye contact. Embrace. Stoic face.
As streams rain down and embers soar, sparks fly.
Celebrate. Nothing more. Than more light in the sky.
Sulfur smelling air. No care.
Dressed eighteen hundreds.
Beaming in red bursts with white gold finish.
Smiling steady in sporadic flashes of darkness.
If you fell out of it, it wasn’t love.
If you lost it, it wasn’t love.
If it waited for your sight, if you had to use your eyes, it wasn’t love, at least not at first.
There is no such thing as puppy love. There are no lovebirds.
Let’s say something poetically asinine, like love is a flower. I ask, what is a flower?
Do roses not have thorns? Do plants not feed on decay? Are there not many completely crucial elements required for flowers that you would not call beautiful, that you would not recognize, or think of as desirable?
Love. My mother has it. But not all mothers. Love. The same farm that produces milk also creates a lot of filth. And who wants that? Who wants to know the true, putrid cost of all the things we really like a lot? I can tell this with confidence, there aren’t many of us.
It is not love if you refuse to recognize the cost. I love my child, but he will not remain a child. He is not just his wonderfully sly side smile. There are smells that come out of him that would earn the respect of a skunk. I love him, as a child, all the while, I dream of the man he will be. A man who, by all means, may not want to be like me.
Love is different from comfort, or happiness, or joy, or appreciation. Love has a dishrag in its hand already, ready to clean up after all those things.
Do you understand what I’m trying to say? Is it clear just how rare true love really is?
It is hard work.
How many people have you met who say they love hard work?
That is how many people you have met who have loved.
I could write a horror movie about how chilling true love really is.
Truly loving can be quite disgusting. First off. Everyone shits.
Even leaves the door open just hoping no one will walk in.
Love is not being someone’s everything.
It is being someone’s own personal no one.
Attention buried in a book. Praying
you just do the dishes of your own
accord. To have and to hold and
don’t ask for any help. Don’t
you dare get sick at the same
time as me. Love is touching damp
tissues that are not yours stuffed between couch cushions.
And chipping fingernails against dried-on egg.
A horror movie. Standing in the kitchen. Blood dripping.
From a paring knife in stitches trying to decide whether or not we need stitches.
Love is locked out of its own safehouse. Testing windows. Out of town.
And the pipes all froze. On your belly in the crawl space of love.
Mouse turds and torn up insulation. They don’t tell you this stuff
about houses when you buy one. We bury truth in our foundations.
We’re expected to figure it out all on our own.
Love is like that horror movie scenario.
The one where you’re at home. All by yourself.
Not a soul around for miles.
And your phone lights up.
And a voice tells you
you’re not alone.
Love is a twenty five mile day.
You take it on in sections.
Walk along. Taking your licks.
Your fallen sticks and fractured logs.
Your sharp rocks, and the ones that like to stay slick.
At the frazzled tail end of each, you’re beat.
Done. Broke-hearted but too tired to run.
Until you see it.
The tinny right angle of a rusted roof.
The creek. The road. Some sign for both.
And suddenly impossible has changed.
The same ways mountains range.
From nothing other than one foot before another
until miles you planned months ago
are behind you and gone. You breathe.
Drink a little red water that’s too sweet. You eat.
Then plan the next one and move on.
Love is not one.
It is not two or three.
Love is at least five of those sections in succession
until you’ve stacked up a day that was too tall, too heavy,
too much for you before you were ready.
Love is how you hiked it anyway.
Showed up out of breath feet throbbing
almost surprised you made it
to that random spot you circled
on a long list of random spots.
Bit off more than you could chew.
Wrote a check you couldn’t cash.
Eyes were hungrier your stomach.
Love is not a challenge. Or a goal. Or a game.
It is a miracle. Simple and plain. It is too much.
By definition. Love is too far to walk in one day.
And yet you somehow found a way.
You made it happen.
When they ask how, don’t explain.
Love is all you have to say.
It is the same as saying
I walked twenty five miles today.
A lemon growing in the woman I love. The sweetest lemon there ever was. Still isn’t too sweet. But growing two feet. And butterfly wings. When the woman I love finally settles in at night. You water that lemontree just right, and she’ll expand your definition of love. And. Grow you lemons. Well, grape turned pomegranate turned lime then lemon and so on. Plus two arms to sew on. Isn’t that impressive? This lemon can put on its own buttons. And zipper up vertebrae galore. Seam ripper the skin between fingers. And longarm till short arms grow sore.
To be clear I have never liked lemons before.
Now, I admit, I just hadn’t met the right lemon yet.
Just because an organization leans on a word over and over does not mean the word begins and ends with them. The word God for example, or the word love, defined solely by their most common associations, are deduced to simple dichotomous choices. To believe in or be in or nothing at all. But in truth, regarded as they really are, definitions never fully known, neither God or love is a choice we would make. We wouldn’t even use them the same way. Different altogether, bigger than, beyond, buried deep above our heads. The way we talk about weather. If we were honest, God would be another thing to complain about with strangers. And love, forecasted, right there beside the storms.