I’ve been afraid of truth-telling
when the stakes are high.
Loss was my parent
wearing my father’s disintegrated face
once I outgrew my childskin,
then it morphed
into lovers who never opened
the soul I wrapped up like a birthday present
and handed over whole.
Still I would not be jaded.
I knew, in the way that I cannot disprove
and refuse to negate
the existence of magic,
that love was the only thing
no matter how many times
it miraged through my hope-shaken hands.
So I hold you,
as though I have a fairy in a jar,
but with a tendering awe,
nervously reaching out my fingertip
just to know it’s real enough to touch.
The words sit under my tongue
even as it tastes you,
never thoroughly enough;
each stolen/gifted hour savored
until the flavor is sucked dry,
but I haven’t taken time enough
to memorize the pattern and color of your eyes
still fearing that if I were to address
your wild heart
it would spook like a whitetail
taught that all 2-legs have guns.
On the way to a wedding
my mother told me to be brave,
that it was important,
to be naked
even when culture says
to reveal invites abuse,
though I never listened
one too many times
I’ve never felt taken from,
only that at times I gave too freely
to the same cruel lover,
who arrives each time with a new face,
greedier and hungrier.
I don’t think you’re a bully’s joke.
I don’t think you’re here to teach me another hard lesson.
I don’t think I’ve learned the last,
maneuvered through the final rough patch, but
I do think
you are worthy of pause,
the glimmer in the forest
I know is real
beyond all want of proof.
I have been afraid of love
like I am afraid to go out into the wilderness alone,
knowing exactly what lives there unseen,
the hairs on my neck noticing,
instinct overriding rationale.
I know now that it’s best to wait
until the scent of adrenaline
has dissipated from my hair,
to stand soft in the clearing
and make no sudden movement
as I watch you from this closeness.
I know exactly what you are
and what it might mean to call out your name
into the tingling space,
clutching my breath,