a poem about love, not a love poem

I never thought
I’d want the love I have.

Maybe I didn’t think
it existed, warm
and calm and ever-present.

Maybe it was never
modeled for me
when I was little,
and I was expecting
love to mean
sacrifice and shouting
with only a few moments
of joy to even it out.

And it isn’t fair
to say I never knew
love at all before.
They weren’t ready,
or I wasn’t.
But it was there,
in the gazebo at
Van Vorst Park
and the love poem
I corrected.
It was present
on the rocks at
Central Park.
And it was certainly
there for two and
a half years,
but neither of us
knew what to do
with it
and instead
we did our damndest
to foster hatred
mistaking it for passion.
Mostly me.

I didn’t expect
the love I probably
didn’t deserve
to literally
walk into my life,
ten years my senior
and hopelessly entrenched
in another relationship.
And when it did
present itself,
neither of us
thought it would last.

It was a novelty
to both of us,
love that didn’t
make us feel
trapped or lacking
(that was always
our problem,
not theirs,
but it was a problem).
Love that grew
over years,
love that
didn’t diminish
in close quarters
and hard times.

Love that didn’t
go away, even when
it would have made
everything easier.

Sometimes it’s a dying
houseplant, needing just
a little care to revive.
Sometimes it’s
an apple tree in full fruit,
fragrant and nourishing.
And sometimes
it isn’t anything
other than two people
trying to do
right by each other.

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