This love is not feathered. It neither swoops
nor swallows. It doesn’t blue bird or mocking jay.
My skin doesn’t turn pink from eating
shrimp. This love is not feathered.
It doesn’t fly away.
It doesn’t nest or roost or crow about itself
on weathervanes to remind the world to wake.
I will never hang around your neck
or peck out your eyes. Probably.
Let’s talk about bee stings, the way the skin stretches
to fit all the sharp pangs inside it, the way the heart
pounds and the throat swells.
If we talk about love like that, it’s just cliches.
If we talk about yellow-and-black shock, the barb
of stingers, the swarm of the hive,
it’s just life and death.
Not that I think love’s a bee.
But we know already that, whatever the songs
teach us, love is not the flower.
Red roses bowing their frail heads in murky
water full of copper. They smell like blood
and year-old sex. These are the love killers:
the breath of babies
the glories of morning
the black-eyed Susans from
across the street that turn their faces
to the yard and wave their come-hither
petals over the fence.
You want love? Let’s talk about weather.
Bury me in snow. Drive me in rain.
The sun cracks my skin like ice and sucks
the moisture from my eyes.
They say lightning never strikes twice
but I’ve watched it come for me, zigging.
There is mud on the heels of my boots,
streams at the seams of my invisible coat.
I’ve forgotten my umbrella, my feathers,
my barbs, my pistil.
I’m unprotected out here.
And still I walk to the river.
And still I lift my face up to the tide.
And still I find that one round rock,
that precious wild weight, and I remember
that I no longer need to be heavied.
Love is nothing but this rushing past river
and me, still on the bank, emptying my pockets
of stones. Making room for the real
of your hands.
The title is from a line in an E. E. Cummings’ poem. The stamp is from yesterday’s mail. The poem is from my own tired brain and quick fingers.