Don’t ask me why the caged bird sings. I really couldn’t tell you. If it were me, I’d use that beak to saw away at the bars and beat my wings until I’d blanketed the cage floor in downy white. I’d squawk until you couldn’t ignore me. I’d bite the hand that feeds for it also imprisons. Ask me instead why I’ll never cease to fly if held down. It’s simple: things look so much more beautiful from up here.
Don’t ask me how I got this scar. As soon as you do, I am back on the fifth grade playground. Before self-confidence, before scars were sexy, before concealer, before a peer might actually know what tracheotomy means. If I want you to know, though I probably never will, I’ll tell you. Ask me instead why I moved 3,000 miles from home and never looked back. The answer to that other question is written in there somewhere, and I’ll let you read it off the skin that forms the pages of my history.
Don’t ask me if you can kiss me. If you lean in, and I lean closer, put your hand where my neck meets my collarbone and bring your lips to mine. If you lean in, and I ask Are you trying to kiss me?, be prepared to buy me a few more drinks. Ask me instead if it feels good when you do that or touch me there. Be prepared for an honest answer and hope it’s Don’t stop.
Don’t ask me for directions, especially via text message. I know that you are holding an iPhone and that it is smartly outfitted with the Google Maps application. Besides, I’ll only get you lost. Ask me instead how it is that no matter how skewed the path or how far we stray from it, we always seem to end up where we were meant to be all along.
Don’t ask me for advice if you don’t plan to listen. You don’t have to follow it, but for Heaven’s sake, listen. If you’d listened the first time, you wouldn’t be back here in my ever-open arms, crying over him or her or it, and asking the same questions. You come to me because I listen, and I analyze and over-analyze and see right through situations that have formed opaque blockages in your heart and vision. The words spill out of my lips and course through my fingertips and, I promise, I promise, they’ll find their way to you. Ask me instead why I stay here, why my arms are still open. The answer might make you forget about the net that dragged you here from the most profound chambers of your grief. The answer is, the answer always is, I love you.
Don’t ask me if I love you. You already know I do.