WHAT LOVE CAN'T DO
It’s this endless orchestral ache, like the bow
never lifts from the violin strings. The note held taut.
You, transplant, no matter what city or song.
The enormity of what I wish
I could offer you an ocean streaming from my hands.
I will love you across all landscapes,
across names, pronouns, your shape shifting
or not. I’ll love you so much
that something will heal — the scars
you didn’t choose smoothed back into skin.
The scars you did choose worn to the beach.
Let’s take them swimming.
I will love you enough
that you’ll be able to walk into the water again,
the way you haven’t in years, salt crash
and tug on your body. How long has it been?
Since you were so young
you could have been swept away by the tide.
I will love you until the tide changes
and we’re all swept backwards —
your mother calling you into the house
instead of telling you to leave it.
© Esther McPhee