after Louise Glück
I have been in love with my friend for thirty-three years
& have just come to understand this truth, although
others have long known. Over lunch a girlfriend explains
that people mistake him & me for lovers, Because you are.
Her eyes blare when I protest
& she presses her lips.
Life is often like this, announcing its gospels & then
pinching shut before we can close truth down
with our quick swiveling hips.
When I talk to him about this, I don’t say
I’m in love with you, because romance is not
the issue between us. & it is too late.
We are too good & gentle to each other for that.
I say some other foolishness.
Really, our tragedy is that we are children
of fist & back, beating love red, abandoning it to blue.
Those lessons caused us to stare at one another
for thirty-three years recognizing the possibility
of something dark & morbid, how under certain light
love’s glint becomes a shiv. We are that magic,
are smart like this. We are brave historians.
This is what I say to him.
& of this sweet house we’ve made
with our friendship, our dark cavern
with its curtains & wooden table
& candles & spice? Nothing. Again, I say,
it is too late for that. Safer to love people
for whom we do not truly clamor,
with whom we can sit safely on the porch.
The problem is the lovely puppeted body
left in the corner of our cavern,
the wooden thing crumpled on the floor
the pitiful thing dragging itself beneath the bed.
It breathes, you know, I say to him.
It longs for a life of its own, but it’s stuck in here—
with us. I look down, scrape my boot
against the floor, glance at the metal strip
glittering along the bottom edge of door.
He stares at me quietly when I say this.
I cannot read the black of his eyes,
suspect anger strangles him. This is who we are.
This is the nature of love. This,
he says, is the problem between us. We keep,
we know too much.