sunday post: roses.
by Michael King
the white rose,
evoking innocence, charm, purity
It took months for me to feel clean again.
That’s the trick to love –– we spend years figuring out how to stand tall in ourselves, training our hands self-sufficient, learning to grin at the hard-won person staring from the mirror, and a single human stumbles along and shatters the whole illusion.
On the front end, there’s so much joy in the falling apart, the reckless unraveling. What a thrill it is to wake up and feel wanting, feel wanted. What a wild thing it is to let somebody rearrange all the furniture, pulling up future plans like old carpet.
But, oh, the fragile aftermath. Look to our limbs and find them stained, every corner of the world a reminder of what’s no longer here. Relearning to laugh, to run, to risk being seen, to breathe through the seasons, all the once-simple things towering like mountains.
I’m not a patient healer. In the days and weeks following, I rubbed my skin raw fighting to scrub myself free of scars. You’re fine, and you had twenty-five years without even knowing who he was, and goddamn it, stop looking for love where it doesn’t dwell.
One night, at an open mic event, a poet told me someone leaving us is like a dog biting down on a stuffed animal, immediately dirtying what was once clean. The second I got home, I sank into my chair and cried. As it turns out, grief will outwait our stubbornness.
The rinsing came in the days I wasn’t watching. Green shoots pushed themselves through the rubble, white petals brushing themselves gently across the sutures.
My reflection came as a soft surprise. Oh. I returned to myself, stronger and gentler alike, better acquainted with joy and with pain, breakable and unbroken.
the red rose,
evoking romance, passion, love
I never imagined this for myself, the joy of pushing my clothes in a bag, walking out beneath the night sky, climbing into my car and driving my way to you. Who knew this was possible, the feeling of home in that hug hello, the way two human spirits can melt into each other. The clock falling to pieces around us, seconds and hours melting into nothingness, the way we lie up in bed talking, laughter echoing against the ceiling, fighting sleep because we’d rather be here together.
I never imagined this for myself, the decision to take the leap after all, discovering all the courage I needed in the idea of not being able to be yours, arms that find their way around me at my most uncertain, here in the age of showing up and shaking, sex a love letter in a language only we know.
I never imagined this for myself, the reckless abandonment of all my old imaginings, the discovery of having seen the world through a limited set of colors before this, finding poetry in the margins of my mornings, my own willingness to write your name across my limbs, handwriting down to the muscle memory, putting my own body on the line and, for once, risking the fall.
the yellow rose,
evoking joy, gentleness, friendship
February lifts, loosens its grip and moves onward, leaving behind soil cracked by cold and skies long acquainted with gray. March comes reluctantly, blustering and hesitating back and forth, uncertain of its power. Gradually, though, color sweeps over everything, yellow splashing its way across the sky, dotting itself into the trees, stretching itself open among the flowerbeds.
My friends have held me through every February, whispered poetry in my ear, a promise to stay. You are the great loves of my life, the stanzas bridging me back to myself, my living, breathing, screaming reasons for believing in better things. Because of you, I know what it is to be seen and steadied, I know what it is to have someone sit and star search alongside me through the infinite night.
Inkpens into parchments, words sung gently over our own acoustic strumming, paint pressed across the canvas, and we still haven’t quite captured love. Even in our wildest imaginings, we seem to only be able to imagine love one or two ways at a time, only to discover it breathing and swelling in a million different ways at once. Love is in the cashier who remembers our coffee order, the friend who listens knowingly during our third or fourth recollection of the same wound, the student who takes the wild risk of being honest about her pain, the mom calling at bedtime just to feel close to her child’s voice.
In all of it, there is love, roses waiting, if we’ll search for them, to be pulled free and passed along. There is love, love, love.