17/30: LOVE BETTER
by Zachary Caballero
“Therefore, dear sir, love your solitude
and bear with sweet-sounding lamentation
the suffering it causes you.”
-Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
Dear Zachary, sir—I need you to love better.
Dear sir, I need you to love better and mean it.
You can start with me, and all the sweet-sounding
suffering I cause you. This isn’t advice.
I love watching you try, but what good is
showing up, if you do not follow through
with who you wish to become?
Apart from me, you are another and I am other.
As if we exist in separate dimensions.
Am I a place you go but do not mention?
Dear Zachary, together, have we not walked
through shame like confetti and cascarones
underneath pink evenings? Have you forgot
the wilderness of your childhood, the backwards
deliverance of our innocence? We passed the time
like a jar of fireflies at dusk, opening the closed
jar to see how far we could see trace the fading
light. Each time you proposed an exit strategy to
get out of your head, who was your canary?
What if I told you it is not possible to love
someone until you love me? All the pain
in our heart is instructive. Isn’t that what
you call precedent. Would it please you
if I gave my argument with authority?
Because I know how you hate the past,
And yet, you protect your agony, unequivocally
too stubborn to learn the errors of your ways
And I know this weighs on you. I can feel
the slow puddle of your blood form when
you refuse to participate. Dear sir, please,
I am not an exit strategy. I am an invitation.
My only wish for you is to receive what
I give without leaving me behind. Remember
how it feels to stumble through the unfinished
plot of what is lost and what is gained? I know
you need me most when it rains and the air
changes instantly, announcing to the world
what is here and what is to come, the same way
you wish you could change back into the man
you wrote about once before you became an
island, stranded in the sand of your fears.
I hear you talk to yourself when you refuse
to use your voice. I know all your tricks.
In the mirror, when we visit each other,
Your eyes trace our body in the dim light.
Dear sir, don’t you see the space I give
is empty for a reason?