If only I had been born a book
or a pot of chrysanthemums,
requiring only a sturdy shelf to call home,
a dose of water once the soil dries to the touch.
If only I could fancy a life of waiting
to be plucked from the ledge. Chosen.
Maybe tomorrow. If not, then eventually.
But I am no dog-eared Bible, no orange-petaled flower.
I cannot sit quietly on your bedside table, cannot
wilt on command, cannot bloom without sustenance.
I was born to be more than pages and roots.
The essence of survival.
Necessary. Not an addition.
Not a sticky note stuck to the refrigerator door.
But a story you can’t put down.
Written in blood. In the stars.
Between the folds in the fabric of time.
As fundamental as gravity.
When I was younger, I thought love was hesitation.
Was constant airplane brace position, impact anticipation, miles above mountains yet already imagining the charred stench of flesh and aluminum. Was fear of flight. Thought love was crisis prevention, apocalypse preparation, stocking up on non-perishables for the end of time. Thought love was choosing words with the precision of a night shift surgeon. Knowing how much I love you, but still flipping through thesaurus pages to find the most beautiful words to mean it. Thought it was carefulness. Neurosis. Biting tongue to hold back from spilling too much. Because I love you, and I can’t lose this. Every day I feel sicker and sicker imagining all of the lives we are not living. But I love you. I love you. I will always hesitate.
I am older now. I have realized. So much of love is blind risk. We can’t live in bomb shelters forever. We can’t hunch over for so long we forget to gaze out through the glass, to chase constellations and fireflies and wild dogs running through afternoon sprinklers. We can’t keep surviving on the nutrition of fear. There is no substance in hiding. There is no joy in loving by the rules.
Because love is trusting the possibility of tragedy. The inevitable end. Is running the red light anyway, because I don’t want to miss a single thing. Is pouring in the milk without triple-checking the expiration date. Is mixing it in, and in, and in.
Love is handing you the car key, believing you’ll come back home.