The evening we first met
we were in my high school’s
parking lot, and though we were
only the friends of friends
I remember you.
I remember it was twilight and that I
pretended not to look at you,
intent instead on a shock of weeds
sprouting in a crack of the sidewalk,
making as if the weeds were the most
fascinating things I’d ever seen,
admiring the curve of their stems,
and the width of their leaves.

Because I had to train
my eyes on the weeds,
I don’t remember what you were wearing,
but I remember you, and that you gave me
a sudden pulse,
a quickening of the senses.

In comparison to the rituals we must go through,
I think I prefer the courtship of birds.
Wouldn’t it be sweet
if I could have landed in a dark wood
on a berry-laden branch,
and sang my song, calling to you,
filling my breast with air traced
with lilac and blossom,
calling to you, a sparrow or a hummingbird,
and I would be a sparrow or a
hummingbird too.
If my song appealed to you, I would
hear your song,
distant, on the edge of a clearing,
from the branches of a sun dappled maple.
I would lift and fly, swooping over the wildflowers,
alighting on the branch beside you
and we would sing to each other
wordless songs.

Of course,
you would probably take off after a moment–things would not be that much easier
just because we’d be birds–
yes, you’d make me fly after you,
pinching branches as you flew past and snapping them into my lidless eyes,
making a quick right turn when I had anticipated a left,
whisking through the needled branches of pine and spruce and cedar,
through the branches of maple and elm and oak,
and eventually, tired with the chase, we
would meet high up in a tree
and the sun would go down.

we are not birds,
and instead we have
the awkward ways of human courtship,
we have furtive handholding,
the impatience of waiting for phone calls,
and the dreaded, internal questions,
“Now what do we do?”
“Now what do I say?”

Later, there was a time,
when I began to imagine you in places relative to me.
I had hazy visions of you.
I would wake and walk into a country kitchen
and find you, looking rumpled and soft and beautiful,
at the table, bent over a cup of tea sending up
wisps of steam.
You would be framed in bright sunshine from
the window over the sink, listening to
the closing of screendoors,
the bubbling of the coffepot,
and the morning birdsong.
I would pour out a cup of coffee
and sit across from you and join
you in listening to the morning.
Or I would be sitting in a recliner, reading,
and a door down the hallway would open. I would hear
the buzz of the bathroom fan and you would walk past,
a perfectly white towel wrapped around you
and another raveled on top of your head.
You would look like, in those old commercials,
the Chiquita banana lady.
The scent of baby powder and shampoo
would reach across the room to me, and I
would be unable to return to my reading,
but instead would sit and look down the hall
after you.

It seems to me that there are several
kinds of love but the strongest
is that which makes dreams concrete.
You dream of having a child and,
suddenly, there he is, looking at
you as if you were a god but
one he can’t quite figure out, and
that is love.
Or you dream of having your own
home, a private world that you made,
and suddenly your keychain
has grown a new key.
Or you imagine a woman becoming
your wife,
and of lying beside her and watching her sleep,
and suddenly it is happening,
and you are at your wedding, it is your wedding night,
and you are making, perhaps, a little bit of a fool of yourself,
but it’s okay
because she understands,
and because love is not something that anyone can
make fun of,
not when your love is an almost tangible thing,
which you can feel across rooms and through doors,
over a latenight phone line, when it is a hint of static electricity
that fills the air and picks at the collar of your shirt
or the hem of your dress.
Not when it is as lasting as
the impressions of a sunrise.


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