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I do not know what love is by Don Mihsill

Artwork by Jennifer Sharmila

I do not know if this is love

or what love is

or if love's a thing, if it can be

worn like an old coat, or felt

like harsh fabric on naked flesh, or

if it is a sensation, like that first time

the brakes of my bike failed while riding downhill or

the climax of masturbation, or

if love is an invention, and we all

manufacture our own versions -

some bright, some dull, some marbled,

but all with labels and stickers

that say: this is love.

I do not know what love is

or if I can say what I think love is,

could be or should be. If we were

to ever sit on the marble floor,

on one of those dry, electricity free, 45 degree

Delhi nights, sharing a drink of Old Monk's

and I were to tell you that this is love,

slap me for I would either be drunk or a liar.

and if i were drunk, I won't be drunk on love or your loving

for I don't know what love is or if it can be known.

Maybe, one night, after thirty years of searching

for what love means, we will sit outside -

you and I -

amidst the debris of our meanderings,

our bent backs resting

on the rusted iron railing,

our skin pimpled, throats scratched

from prayers uttered to absent gods and

we would be in love and believe that love is this:

love is all the spaces, non-events,

the unspoken words and everything

in between the first second of these

thirty years to this. Love is this.


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