stuck in an unnamed place
half way between love and in love,
you call me late at night and ask
if i’m sleeping. i tell you, i’m writing.
you ask about what? love, i say.
when i write about us, i stop myself
from saying we make love or we have sex.
i search for a euphemism that won’t bind me,
won’t define us. i arrive at the phrase
move together. and only now, in writing
this poem, do i see how fitting it is.
the way we moved together vertically
is what made me want to move with you
horizontally. music joined us,
but even in the joining, i didn’t know
how to behave, how much or how little
to say, how to choose to be me.
an old friend told me if i feel
smaller than myself with a lover
this is the wrong lover for me.
yes, i make myself smaller; i shrink
my politics, my conversation. i shrink
in mind, but i grow in body.
and don’t think i don’t know
when the movements are fluid
we look for ways to draw each other
nearer, name each other soulmates.
i have been a two-time witness
to how easily the soul-thread can be
cut, leaving the so-called soulmate
dangling in an empty world of one.
the same old friend comes back
to say a lover should love
in me what i love in myself.
trouble is, we don’t know what we love
in each other. we exchange tapes of songs
to hint at the possibility of a feeling,
admitting nothing, partially exposed
in lyrics so, if pushed, we can deny
we meant the words that way.
we skirt around edges hoping
the space between will stop closeness
because close is where we are
fighting ourselves not to be.
i preach distance to you. i inflict it
on myself. i invent barriers like age-gaps
and bad-timing. but only now, in writing
this poem, do i learn how the word
distance can magnetize lovers.
you obey my demands. you don’t
call. we don’t speak, but you find
a strand of my hair in your freezer
and i still write with the taste of
you in my mouth.