We Help a Friend Move in with Her New Lover
She says that she feels safe with him. She says
she falls asleep when he drives, like a child
who will be carried in to bed. She says this
as if safety is a rare commodity, a compliment,
and I know it is. I’ve seen the news, the neighbor
in long sleeves in summer, the long bangs never
quite covering the shiner. I’ve felt the fear
at a red light next to a car full of young men, kept
my eyes straight ahead, kept walking, kept distance
between my body and a fist that never flew but
always might have. I know how beautiful it is
that I have never feared you or your anger or your
lust or your sadness or, for that matter, your driving,
but this thing she describes, this childlike surrender,
this giving over of responsibility is a thing
I have never had or wanted with you. Our love
is a thing we carry between us, too heavy for either
to lift alone. If this is not safety, it is the risk we choose
when we stay awake together all the long drive home.
for Aaron and Whitney, on their wedding day
Butterfly cupped between loosely folded
fingers, kiss of wings: a promise in each
palm. Truth like a single childhood keepsake:
stone thumbed smooth, satin-edged scrap of quilt.
They told you to pray without ceasing, one
of a thousand impossible edicts.
God, the idea of him, held in your mind
even when you weren’t looking.
Love is a little like that and like this:
A child finds her mother’s hand in darkness.
Think of that: the handrail on the steep stair,
what you will cling to when there is none.