This week we have a poem from Canadian poet Jessica Robinson, entitled “who we are.” For her, love embodies various forms of being, but never human. Each section focuses on a different element, concluding with a powerful last stanza.
who we are
I once had a boy made of water. He lived
in a glass jar, would swim around and ask me to
take him to the pool. He loved dolphins and
he never looked at me. He called me Jonah
and swallowed me whole.
I called myself Geppetto, took to fishing inside
of him. I had a boy made of water and he would melt me
like sugar and I would hate it. He would pull my insides out
and leave them strewn across the yard. He would whisper his
secrets into conch shells but not my ear. I had a boy made
of water and he didn’t love me and I didn’t want him to.
He thought I left him for fire and I didn’t but I
I fell in love with a boy made of fire
and everything he touched felt like ash to him.
He would smolder in the centre of rooms. I would
flirt with fire, feeling hot, feeling heavy. I
burned my hands on him. Everything he touched felt
like the sun to me. He was made of fire but
he burned like wood, and I burned like skin, singed like
hair. I was left standing alone in the centre of the room
searching for water but there was none. I loved a boy
made of fire and I didn’t want to. He couldn’t tell
if he loved me and it didn’t matter anyway.
I am in love with a beast of a boy who lives in a forest
miles away. He howls at the moon but he
is not a wolf. He stays away from the water. I swim
in front of him, splashing around while he watches
from the shore. I set myself on fire and he howls and he
watches and I put myself out. I am in love with a beast
and he loves me and I will ruin him. I brush his fur.
We hide out in his cave. He wears his nails down trying
to write my name on the wall. When it rains he curls
up beside me and pretends not to shiver. I am in love
with a beast and it will ruin me.
I am made of water but I haven’t told anyone.
I am made of fire and I am trying to hide it.
I want to be ash.
I want to be stardust and snow.
I do not want to belong.
I do not want to be in love.
I do not want to breathe.
The poet conveys intense pain and love in surreal imagery, giving the poem its beauty. Join us next week for another post!