On Defining Love

Image of Long Story Short Award - Fall 2020
Image of Poetry
I’m eighteen
never before tasted true devotion
never had the lingering touch of another’s lips on mine.
Never was a romantic
never cursed myself for it
but I can tell you what love is.

Love is the bees
It’s in their light buzzing flits from flower to flower
how they nestle their tiny legs in the pollen
collecting nectar for their honey
and the flower saying
take what you need.”
And the bees do not fail to recompense.

Love is the waves at the shore.
No matter how far the tide pulls back
she doesn’t fail to make her trip to crash at the sand at my feet.
How she can’t turn back for too long
so she comes running back
salt chasing grit
two lovers never separated
chasing perfect unity.

It is not when the boy in your chemistry class
commands you to go on a date with him
because he says you owe him.
Because he said he gave you permission to sit next to your friend.
Because he believes that your body is a form of currency
that he can use as if you were not human
but reduced to a common object used for crude trade.
is not love.
is not when he tells you he wants some pictures of you
or else he will commit suicide
spinning your brain into a perpetual spiral
do not want to kill someone, but
is manipulative, and
know it’s a ploy
but cannot shake the thought of his corpse on the ground, while
he, just keeps using
is not love.
is not when your boyfriend demands
that you take off your clothes
because he assumes that he deserves it.
Because he says he had a
“rough day.”
Because he cannot help but succumb to his
“all he wants is you”
because your body is his therapy
and it’s time for another session.
That it’s time for you
to submit yourself to him
because he is losing control
and he has no life in him left
so he needs to leech off of another’s vitality.
is not love.
He leaves you on the bed with a bleeding heart
and broken soul on the floor.
is not love.
He tries to lay claim over you
as if you are a mere possession
as if you are a toy that caught his eye that he decided to play with.
is not love.
was never love.
cannot be love.
is not etching
into someone’s skin
as if they are nothing but slave property.
is not scarring with the
serrated knives of unceasing trauma
done by coarse hands.

I have never been in love
but at least I have never mistaken filthy greed for reasonable longing
What I mean is that I have seen the wolf in sheep’s clothing
take their catch
pierce their necks
and let their blood drain out—
an easy kill

Love is not pushy
it is not demanding
it is not crude
and it is not hidden.
It is the bees and flowers intertwined
it is the ocean enveloping the sand
it is free
it is unshackled
and it is good.