“Love is messy,” she says,
and I want to know what she means—
is it soft, like clay beneath your fingernails,
is it like syrup, sticky and sweet on your lips,
is it dirty clothes in the hamper, footprints
on both the linoleum, and your heart?
Is it all the ways we’ll fight and scream and fill
the house with our loud imperfection?
Is it how I willingly accept all this—
and you—without hesitation?
She cautions me to find the ‘right one,’
to know, beyond a doubt, that you’re here
to stay. But I’ve never been afraid
Not even these bones will survive, after all.
I hold her wrinkled hand to my chest,
imagine the vibrancy she once had—
red lips, brown hair, blue eyes.
Her husband is in the chair next to us,
always near, always breathing the same air.
Dedicated, even in sleep. Fifty years,
unwavering. And that’s how I want to love you.
When the bathroom’s dirty, when there’s
mud on the rug, when the dogs are barking
and the kids are crying and the bills are unpaid.
When we forget
how to be tender,
and have to relearn each other’s bruises
When we must teach one other how to love
all over again, how to choose
and keep choosing.
And that’s what I want, with you—
the messy, the imperfect,
becoming a story
we write to life
every single day.