This is love

There are many different kinds of love.

I didn’t know that when I was young.

When I was little love was
man and woman,
scattered rose petals,
cartoon floating hearts that pulsed
and doubled, tripled in size,
a swell of music
and wind-swept kisses.

It was something magic and private
and although I could see it there in the movies
or on TV
it was a mystery I couldn’t get inside.

I was scared to get married,
and I knew I would get married,
because I got shaky thinking about having to kiss a boy
actually kiss,
lips touching lips,
in front of a crowd full of people,
the strangeness and the scandal and spotlight of it.

Groping a stranger in the packed concrete patio
of a decaying frat house
the memory strikes me
and I laugh
to think that love seemed something
so personal and concrete.

Love is intangible.
Love is only theory
like gravity
The Big Bang,
like God.

We think it’s there
but we can’t touch it or see it or kiss it
only the vessels it had been poured into;

shaggy-haired boy with the crooked smile and bad news written all over his v-neck and skinny jeans,
mother who brings the cookies out of their hiding place when she finds out you’ve had your heart broken for the very first time,
friend who knows you were wrong but believes you when you say it felt right.

Now I can tell there’s a love in
“Miss you,”
in “can’t wait to see you,”
in “get out,”
in hellos and goodbyes in all their loud and hidden forms,
there’s a love in one night stand
and in that poisonous boy
whose jaws you leapt into just to get close,
whose venom, years later, you’re still trying to suck back out.

There’s love
and like everything in life
it’s not always pure or good.

It’s not apple
it’s orange,
encased in layers
and broken in segments
which vary in size and in sweetness.

You can weigh it in your hand
and tear away the pith
but you still won’t be sure what you’re getting
until you take a bite.

I’ve tasted my fair share of fruit —
soured love,
pickled love,
pitted love,
saccharine love that hung on my tongue long after it was wanted,
love just greening
and love long past its expiration date.

I watched
my fair share
of homogeneous true love’s kisses
and while they write it over and over
like it’s the only story they know,
I know that there
are different kinds of love.

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5 thoughts on “This is love

  1. It is limiting the way we tend to think of love as romantic love, when most of love lives within the dailyness of life; the love for you-make-me-crazy relatives, for friends, for those we work with every day.

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