Joseph Parker Okay

Writing Generic Love Poetry Without The Use of Simile

it’s november. it’s snowing. it’s beautiful. i repeatedly think the words “swan lake” for no clear reason. i watch it fall outside, kneeling backwards on my couch. the frozen air leaks through my window and frosts my sinus cavities. this weather always returns with nostalgia of past relationships and the year i spent being 23—the age i dated linnea, the time of year we first met.

the first snow of that season had just fallen, and soon giant bruises on linnea’s legs started to appear. when i asked about them she said she had slipped on a patch of ice. she said, “you know how clumsy i am,” and of course i did, there was constant proof— all winter long she had been dropping half-empty cups, stubbing her toes and shins on corners of couches and coffee tables. there weren’t any reasons to doubt her, and not a single suspicious thought about the yellow and purple marks along the enamel of her upper thighs ever crossed my mind. in memory those frozen months passed in slowed motions. the nights we spent together i marveled at how fragile the flesh and everything below the flesh can be.

spring arrived small that year and was slow to grow to take its rightful place. over the course of a few weeks i watched linnea’s polar opposer thaw and disappear into the warming air, yet, as time continued to elapse, the discolorations below her waist never melted with it; instead, it was my trust that began evaporating.

linnea never told me the truth because she knew she didn’t have to. he moved east at the beginning of that summer and so did she.

a few months passed by and i finally begun to till and cultivate the eroded soil of my emotional landscape, when a number i had tried hard forgetting lit my phone screen— she was visiting family here at home, was wondering if i still lived downtown. i’ll never forgive myself for not hanging up right then. we spent that night under damp sheets, writing generic love poetry without the use of simile. she slipped through the dark with a comeliness i never would have recognized with the lights on. in the morning we showered together but didn’t stay in long enough for the water to fully warm, both knowing nothing ever really gets clean.

it’s been four years short of a decade since then, and there’s only one question still held in my mind: had linnea really once been as clumsy as i remember, or was it just another part of her she faked? it’s something i’ll never truly know, and i’d be lying if i said i wasn’t a bit thankful of that; for all the unnecessary emotional labors that were once placed on my shoulders, i don’t feel guilty for admitting now how thinking about the latter is still able to make me smile—imagining linnea purposely falling off chairs and spilling drinks on herself for no reason other than to validate her story, when all along i would have happily believed her lie without any form of proof. 


Joseph Parker Okay lives in Tucson with his best friend/cat. He's an editor of Spy Kids Review.
He tweets @verysoftlake.