- Love Poem that Ends at Popeyes
it's valentine's day & i hear tires on the slick streetsit is raining a slow steady rainthe kind that makes me saddest because it seemsendless & even after the sky having forgottenits big-eyed blue stands aloof distantwhile the sun mumbling from her side of the bedsettles into a dozei am thinking of the meal i won't have to bravethose streets clamp-thighed in a passenger seat to eator the flowers i will not have to accept awkwardlybecause flowers are such strange gifts why undressthe ground just to prove i am special?we could go to the botanical gardens hold handssmell the smells that come at me all at once in a sneezeor we could pull over on the highway run through fieldsof bonnets which are sometimes so buckled with skythey look bruised
why has no one ever loved me that way a bonnetmight engorge itself with blue so much it is a newcolor unnameable breathless my loves holdtheir breaths calculating they want me to lookat the food & the flowers & the tiny golden heartrun through with a golden thread & say thank you thank youyes i am wearing silver but now i will wearonly gold & then they expect me to lie down quicklyas if we are children & the fields are bloated with green & it is may
somewhere the man who doesn't love me though i wishi could say the same is pacing a supermarket floorhis body a reflection in the waxed tile [End Page 80] really he is two men one flesh man one floor man& both are moving in a direction away from methey are picking out fistfuls of roses or maybe tulipsmaybe assorted flowers with daffodils& they know the woman he really loves will dip her noseinto them like a doe & say thank you thank you& she will kiss him with her tacky lips & for the first timei am not angry that he might lay her down& ask if he can do the things he will do
of course she will say yes that is what you saywhen you love someone right? it's what i would say& this time not because i've learned what happenswhen you say no or when you say nothing at all
i am not sad about whatever she will let him door what she will do to him to make him smilemake his mouth form & his breath catch the emptiness where a fewof his teeth used to be & make it acheit's a good ache when something is missing & people still love youi want him to be satisfied i want him to be happyalso i want to be happy we can do that separatelyor we can do it together i am a hopelessromantic i still make wishes before i blow out candleslast week i asked an oracle when not ifi'd find true love it said bad reception tryagain girl & i am trying i am lyingin bed with my arms around myself thinking of whati will eat when i get hungry i am willingto wait for what i want like when i pull upto the window & the cashier says it'll take ten minutesfor the spicy dark & i say yeah yeah that's oki still want it & i pull my car over & i playmy music & i imagine the fried flecks of floursmothering in the saliva of my mouth& oh the biscuits & oh the honey & oh the red beansin their salty velvet & i think this is my own goldit is not daffodil gold it is not supermarket-rosesgold it is not a thin- stringed gold attached to a locketof expectations with my face clasped betweentwo composite hearts
but it is good & it is filling & it is enough [End Page 81]
Destiny O. Birdsong is a poet, fiction writer, and essayist whose work has appeared...