I used to write love poems for boys.
I’d spin them out on new-beau mornings made of sunny sheets and dove-coos, when the world was so fairy-golden and bright, that I just couldn’t bear it anymore:
I was in love and had to spill it.
On tears of legal pads or post-it notes or whatever I could find, I scribbled unrehearsed thank-you’s to the man I adored, for the extraordinary pleasure of being his.
What did I say? Oh, something about handing off my imperfect heart; something about the perfection of his eyes. The poems differed but they all were woven upon a standard loom.
I used the word “miracle” a lot, because I believed it.
It was always somehow miraculous that I was in love.
As if love wasn’t the natural state of things, or to be expected—or deserved. How was each relationship a miracle, exactly? I never considered that—but “miracle” really was my favorite word.
I was happy tucking miracle-poems into pockets, under pillows, inside vehicle consoles, waiting all day for them to be found and fussed over. I knew there’d be this moment of discovery, and then my newest miracle would be as sheepishly pinkened as a kid at a middle school dance. They’d tell me what a surprise it was, because no one ever wrote love poems to boys; they’d tell me how wonderful it felt to get one.
In that way, I was always their first.
They kept my poems in special places: in an antique secretary drawer, or beneath the worn lid of a cigar tin he’d had since age four. They’d take it out from time to time, saying, “I still have this. I still remember what you said.”
I could never remember the words myself. Except my signature: miracle.
This never struck me as strange until later, when I stopped writing love poems about imagined miracles and started writing whatever my soul needed to bleed.
Because I remember those things. I know distinctly when a thought has been picked up and turned through my head and passed down through the voice of fingertips on a page. I may not be able to quote each syllable spilled, but I can recall the unique sensation each creation made me feel.
What is writing? For me, these days, it begins with some particular experience, which has made all out love to my imagination and sparked a life of words. For long after the making, I can remember that union, and the act of birthing each poem. I was fully present throughout the process.
The root of words comes now from experience: there is a grounded memory holding it firmly in place.
I believe this is why I remember my writings these days, and so little of the miracle-poems of my youth. I suppose it is also the difference between a woman who knows just how she likes to be loved, and a starry-eyed wanderer still trying to figure it out from other people’s poetry.
If I wrote a love poem today, I think it would begin with the words, “Just shut up.”
Shut up and share this moment with me:
watch this sun drip down the mountain,
watch this windsong twirl through the wheatfield—hey!
Watch this f*cking butterfly just flutter around doing its thing!
It’s only alive for a few weeks, you know,
So hold my hand and hold this space.
I’d write love poems from real places and real moments, and not just thought-blossoms arranged from my best favorite words.
I’d love to write love poems that never use the words “love,” “sweetheart,” or “darling” at all, but speak tender passions only in the language of memories.
I’d spell out the kisses that mattered and the nights that rocked and the cozy mornings on country porches with coffee and uncombed hair. That, I think, would be something worthy of pressing into pockets, worthy of keeping in treasure boxes and worthy of holding in my own mind.
I shall write no more love poems calling miracles; miracles aren’t a thing that can be written.
I will write only of love as it lives.
Author: Katie-Anne Laulumets
Editor: Alli Sarazen
Photo: Sebastian Wiertz/Flickr