I’ve been thinking about what love is for.
Not the dramatic part where he gathers
until he is as purposeful inside her
as an electric storm. Not when he breaks
into a thanks so bright it leaves her split
like a tree. (How we all jolt back, our picnic
ten shades lighter, our hands clapped over awe
that is too big for our mouths, our raw hearts
more tender now that they’re a little burned.)
No, not the connecting and charring part.
(After all, nothing we like to call lightning
stays very long among the branches.)
But the two of them, afterwards, tasting
the electricity. Nibbling the charge
on the ions. When her soul has already
risked coming to meet him at the wide open
window of her skin. When what is left
of his body still feels huge, and he sits draped
in his fine, long coat of animal muscles
but uses all this strength to be human
and almost imperceptible. They curl up,
make their bodies the same size, draw promises
in one another’s juices. “You,” they say.
I love it when they say that.
Would that they could give a solid reason.
Sometimes they even refuse to try. They make jokes
while cinching their laces—”I’ll call soon,”
“You are so sweet.” The rank sugar of his breath
doesn’t summarize the world for her. “Not you,” they say.
And nothing bad has happened. They just turn
the doorknob that has been shining in their hands
the whole time, walk out, and continue to die.
Same as the rest of us. So maybe love
is a form of crying. Of finishing
what autumn leaves always start and turning
a brilliant color before we drift down.
Name one living thing that doesn’t
somehow bloom. None of them get to choose
the right conditions. Think of fire, of orchids.
She’s already up the street when he feels
his body pale, close, and become insufficient.
“If you go,” he says out the door, “I go too.”
There is no one like him, but she has no hope
of ever proving it. Instead she stays up
pressing old secrets into his skin and asking
if it hurts. He sets her on top of himself
so he can’t leave without her and confesses
to feeling as if he almost matters,
as if he no longer disappears
as soon as he connects with something
receptive on the ground. She says she will
split in half for him a million times.
They bring flowers and carpet and children
into the act, stand by one another’s side
for years. They refuse to move, ever. They act
as if they’ve found the only hospitable
spot on earth. I love it when they do that.
– Catie Rosemurgy