When Someone Says I Love You the Whole

room fills up with iced tea, something gives: the
sun peels from your window, a sugared
lemon, whole, flaming, hanging there—
You tell them they must: puncture your chest with
a straw to suck all the empty out, but because
they say love they think they can’t hurt you,
even to save your life, which is why you
float up up up knocking your curled toes
and bedeviled breath hard against the tea-
stained ceiling, why you swim sentry over
the oxheart that flooded your bed, hollowed you
out. See it there: big and bobbing wax fruit,
sweating with the effort of its own improbable
being, each burst of wetness a cry to which
you are further beholden, a sweetness trained
against your own best alchemy—Witch, you can
only watch this bloodletting from above, can
only amend the deed to your body: see
it say it back, see it like a little rabbit with a
twist on its neck and wish you could be that,
being had, being held, but instead you grow
wooden and spin on your back. Propeller? No,
there is no getting away from this, and so:
ceiling fan, drowning their hushed joy,
going schwa schwa schwa in
the bed’s sheath of late afternoon light.

– Karyna McGlynn

Karyna explains: “This is a poem I’ve been trying and failing to write for a long time. I wanted to capture those final, most intense moments before telling someone you love them. People talk about feeling ‘whole’ when they fall in love, but for me there’s always an uncomfortable fracture of the self that has to happen first. Like most of the love poems I write, it turned darker than intended, but I tried to maintain an undercurrent of sweetness.”


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