What did I think about before you touched my thigh? Let me say this: I’m going to touch you until my fingers fall off. If my fingers don’t fall off, I will hold your hand even if it’s sweaty. And let me say this: You are lovelier than clouds that look like lovely things. I have only loved a few times and the last time was when you rubbed my neck under the monkey bars. We weren’t much younger than we are now. I still have the same haircut. You still have only one dimple. It’s on your left cheek and it looks like you fell on a pebble. I love that it looks like you fell on a pebble. Let me say this: You taste like candy canes. There was a candy cane tree in my old neighborhood. My neighbor hung candy canes on the branches of the willow and I snatched them in the middle of the night. It was December when I rode my bike the quickest, like I was going somewhere to meet you. I like you more than the candy cane tree. Let me say this: I am uncomfortable in my own skin, so I hold your face. I hold your face and your hips but mostly your face. You have a lovely face. Let me say this: I love you like monsters like scaring little kids. I make a list of words I can use to diagram your body: petite, mellifluous, comely, milk, necessary. Please, forgive the humming; you see I rarely taste candy canes in March. When I don’t taste you I taste sweat. Not good sweat, mind you, sweaty sweat from the men’s locker room. Sometimes I taste pizza, but that’s only because I loved pizza first. Let me say this: My love for pizza was fleeting. I was young and naive and thought that extra toppings meant something. These are fine days because they end with you. Let me just say this: I’m going to kiss you until my lips fall off. If my lips don’t fall off, I will kiss up your spine until I run out of spine. Then I’ll start over.
You are flowers in my stomach.
Cutting me open nightly, blooming through the cracks of the ribs.
I only want to be the sun for you.
Everything I’ve never done, I want to do with you.
These days, everybody is supposed to be so intelligent: ‘Isn’t it terrible about Nixon getting elected?’ ‘Did you hear about the earthquake in Peru?’ And you’re supposed to have all the answers. But when it gets down to the nitty-gritty, like, ‘What is bugging you, mister? Why can’t you make it with your wife? Why do you lie awake all night staring at the ceiling? Why, why, why do you refuse to recognize you have problems and deal with them?’ The answer is that people have forgotten how to relate or respond. In this day of mass communications and instant communications, there is no communication between people. Instead it’s long-winded stories or hostile bits, or laughter. But nobody’s really laughing. It’s more an hysterical, joyless kind of sound. Translation: ‘I am here and I don’t know why.’
I am not the first person you loved.
You are not the first person I looked at
with a mouthful of forevers. We
have both known loss like the sharp edges
of a knife. We have both lived with lips
more scar tissue than skin. Our love came
unannounced in the middle of the night.
Our love came when we’d given up
on asking love to come. I think
that has to be part
of its miracle.
This is how we heal.
I will kiss you like forgiveness. You
will hold me like I’m hope. Our arms
will bandage and we will press promises
between us like flowers in a book.
I will write sonnets to the salt of sweat
on your skin. I will write novels to the scar
of your nose. I will write a dictionary
of all the words I have used trying
to describe the way it feels to have finally,
finally found you.
And I will not be afraid
of your scars.
I know sometimes
it’s still hard to let me see you
in all your cracked perfection,
but please know:
whether it’s the days you burn
more brilliant than the sun
or the nights you collapse into my lap
your body broken into a thousand questions,
you are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
I will love you when you are a still day.
I will love you when you are a hurricane.