On Loving You With All My Intelligence - Susan Peiffer
Do you know what it is to be starved for yourself? How long has it been since you tasted the place where you've come from--the place where you are Known and not simply Seen? What does Home even smell like?
My home smells like tangerines and briney water, like patchouli and salt from the sea--it's humid like sticky days in sundresses--like coffee and scrapple in the morning--like red wine and a crab cakes at night--like oceans of remembered mountains ancient before me, my appreciation relevant, but arrogant adolescent insult nonetheless--
Have you ever needed to go back to the city or the farm or the grocery or the diner that you came from?
This is the After. After you've tasted the cuisines of a thousand cultures--after the blend and spice of a thousand places--after you know when Want becomes Need and it is time to become familiar with what is Wholly Comfortable and life-giving and nurturing again--when you know it is time to go Home--
And then again--there is no certain way of knowing.
There's only the option to decide--
--and once you decide to follow through.
is all the ugly that comes
before we learn to butterfly—
dark cocoons precede dappled wings—
Huddled and damp
I pushed my way out
of our relationship.
I navigated doubt and desire
until I decided
to love you
with all of my intelligence.
I had an idea of myself
that was no longer true &
I could no longer sacrifice joy
to prevent myself from becoming
the woman I must next be—
we put up a good fight and lose.
we can only choose to let go.
is a small dark room—
simplicity & ordinary places
undone dishes & mismatched socks—
bearing witness to the locks we’ve used
to gate hate each other
is starting at the essential &
ending up there too—
it is the gentlest voice commanding
we acknowledge what is true:
You could not convince me to love you
the way you wanted me to.
We don’t always do the right thing
on the way to righteousness.
Being honorable is inconvenient—
having to look you in the eyes &
take it straight to the chin—
I broke my own heart
to stop fucking with your head.
Forgiveness isn’t cotton candy carousels—
it is carnival coffins colliding
in not so fun house hearts.
It is hard to have a conflicting set of emotions—
but it’s not as hard as I pretended it was.
We are the cracked pot
in the garden
we are growing from.
You have sustained my chrysanthemum—
defrosted my marigold—
watered every tearful snowdrop in winter.
You have loved me best
with a generous, hard, true,
right kind of love—
We were once.
And that is (not) all.
Remember while letting go—
Wanting to leave was enough.