the unofficial list of all the things I wanted to tell you at dinner the other night but realized you’re probably not ready to receive poems like this yet

Shakespeare is better on Adderall, I learned,

and sometimes I catch myself spelling your name

a synonym for a romantic affair

but let me sterilize this poem for your health,

unzip it from heartstrings because you don’t like dramatic love

instead: do you ever think about how jelly fungus

is called witch’s butter, etymologically tied to women and natural magic?

or the yellow fungus called fairy cups?

imagine discovering miniature people 

dining on moss-carpeted logs, sipping from those mugs

and did I tell you about the years-ago study

where ecologists placed scallops in seats, buckled them up

to answer the question: what are all those eyes looking at?

I didn’t mention the days-old missing man 

how a passerby found him behind the Dairy Ranch,

body felled from the tree where he tied fabric, 

where he hung himself

I didn’t mention this because we’ve already discussed

your dislike for dramatic love

and yes, I call this love—

For Jones so loved the world, he removed himself from it—

but you’d probably call it selfish 

the scallops were staring at food particles, they found,

staring staring staring and only opening

up their vulnerable guts 

after a certain particle-dense threshold was achieved

I told you about the website that ships exotic frogs live

I would send you an hourglass tree frog every day

if only to help you keep track of time on the weekends

where you disappear from the world’s eye

but are never far from my mind

my nose bled in the shower again

thinking about how you said,

Thanks for being my friend

I hadn’t heard from you in days and days

when they posted a job opening, I thought

Perhaps he’s killed himself, 

like he said he would or wouldn’t do

receive me well, receive me not

but don’t receive me just to take it all back

since you are alive, imagine this with me:

a weekend, a tent, a forest of sugar maples

it’s morning, coffee over a fire brewing,

your hand in my lap, finger tracing the lines of your palm

sitting, we are, absorbing morning birdsong

and maybe you are humming along, thoughtful, calm

we finally escaped the city,

escaped the lights and sirens and chair lifts

face masks, patients, participants—

My Dear, 

between alive and living, 

let me show you the difference

.

buckle me up in a seat, too, and you’ll find

I’m not looking for food, for street signs, for what-have-you

I’m staring at you, staring at me, contemplating

all these things I’m not bold enough to say

but I will, exposing my vulnerabilities anyway

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