“Sunflower”

Remember when you wanted to name your cat “Help,”
so when you stuck your head
out of the screen door at night
and yelled: “Heeeeellppp… Heeeaaaallllp!”
You’d know which of your neighbors
really cared about you?

That was funny.

And I liked how for Arbor Day,
you bought me a sunflower, tall,
for my sunset window
because you said the head
was like a round compass
and the pink heart you drew
on the westernmost petal
pointed approximately
back to you.

That was one of my favorite
daylight moments of ours,
where for just a few rare hours
our connection wasn’t pressed
between bed sheets
where, admittedly, we made love
like poetic athletes,
flinging the windows wide open
so that even music teachers
coming back from lovers’ opera
would think to themselves:
“Now, that is really—
That is really something else.”

Or remember the day your dog died
and you asked me
to describe you in two words,
so I wrote “Nicole Kidman”
on a wallet-sized piece of paper?
Well, I lied.

Honestly…
you’re more like a stapler,
collecting ideals like
Gorgeous [click-click],
Intelligent [click-click],
Breathtakingly Exquisite (gasp).
And that thick volume of you, I’m sure,
is Heaven’s pre-requisite.

Hell, I’ve got a plane ticket’s worth
of confessions to digress to like:
Yes, I do like watching your old videos
from childhood.

Yes, it was me who planted hollyhock
outside by your mailbox
because you once said life could use
more hummingbirds.

And yes, maybe I’ve spent weeks
composing these petty words,
rotating moments of you
in lyrical stasis, thinking:

Ninety billion trillion miles—
that’s how big space is.
And I can’t find a single metaphor
to tell you just how pretty your face is.

Which is just as well,
because you are allergic to compliments
and you’re wary of drive-by relationships
that leave you sideswiped, I know.

Believe me, I know I’m not really your type.
And like the moon, I’m a lot less pretty up close.
So when you come twirling
through my yard,
I try so hard not to tell you how beautiful you are
how beautiful you are
how beautiful you are
as many times as I think it.

But the next time I call—maybe—
I’ll tell you that loving you
is like stealing honey
in a bear suit
in the middle of summer.
Except, maybe, I am you.
And instead of a bear suit, it’s nothing at all.
Maybe the honey is my boxer shorts.
And instead of summer, it’s midnight,
you’re fast asleep, and humming,
[humming] “How sweet it is to be loved by you,”
in your dreams
with the moon tangled in your ponytail.

But I’ll probably just get your voicemail and say:

“Hey, I know you’re used to small talk and horseplay,
but I’m tired of feeling lost and found, so:
Call me if you need a room full of flowers.
Call me if you miss seeing my toes in your shower.

Just call me if you want me around.”

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