Before you, I was starting to believe love tasted like rubbing alcohol.
It never felt very good going down.
But perhaps it wasn’t supposed to.
Everyone all closed eyes and open mouths,
trying to act like cringing for romance is normal.
Like bitter is okay if it’s followed by some warmth.
That we’ll do anything to find bodies to be refuge in the storm.
Men always wanted me for moments, and I was happy to oblige. Forevers weren’t guarantees, I knew better.
I kissed fairytale notions goodbye
when the Big Love ended.
Because the Big Love turned into
I Think This Is Love,
which turned into I Have No Idea What I’m Doing Anymore.
Men always wanted me to be chapters, and I decided being in the book, for even a short duration, was worth it.
There were the ones who chewed me up
in a way I already knew they would.
The ones I spit out first.
That one who operated on my spine without permission,
left me Ragdoll.
Left me flailing in every direction.
Before you, I was starting to rewrite what I wanted without love.
I would joke, “I’m just dead inside now!”
Draw myself as a skeleton, with some barely thumping heart.
I could still see it, though.
Even when I dressed myself up in all black.
Even when I said I didn’t care.
Even when I spit at television screens
and texted boys out of pure disinterest.
I could still see my bleeding heart, organ pumping away.
Asking for someone to come along
with gentle hands and try, this time, to not drop.
You walked into that bar
like you weren’t a bullet to shatter
what I arrogantly thought was impenetrable,
all shoulders down and a shuffle walk.
Said hello, low voice, almost mumbly.
I wanted to ask you to speak up.
To speak directly in my ear.
To breathe heavily as you did so.
To kiss me on the table and never stop.
I didn’t want you to touch me out of practice.
I just couldn’t imagine your hands anywhere else.
I know I’m not always steadiness.
I’m messy and unsure, can’t ever remember
to wear the same socks.
You buy me black leggings that are soft
and fleece because you know I hate wearing jeans.
You tell me you’re thinking of me when it’s 3’oclock.
We get into an argument and my sailor mouth is flying,
you still say, “I love you” before we hang up.
I’m so not used to this, Darling.
But newness doesn’t mean I’ll run.
Newness means I’m learning.
Newness means I’m remembering.
You are Love. And baby, I forgot how good this was.