Suzi Q. Smith “On Taking Vows”

Of course I love him,
her father,
the way Atlas loves stones,
natural as rusted anchor, settling
into the weight of its own hunger,
the threat and slow swing of build,
eternally thick with oath.

I love a good word,
a kept promise,
still frightened of a broken vow.
It is a binding thing, to be God’s child;
to have no appetite for lukewarm,
to forgive and forgive,
spiting your own gravity.

I still pray for his family.
He does not go home anymore
because I will not go with him,
the failure too much to present
with only two hands apologizing
for how much we have to love each other
even now, our bones all woven into legacy,
we will be ancestors together always.

I know that to abscond
is a slow bleed,
death by a thousand pins.
My escape is a scarlet yoke
no matter how many other lovers he took
or times he folded me into his mouth
and chewed, splitting his tongue
down the middle like a family
of orphans, full of hunger and promise.

Some nights, bones
that have forgotten their graves
come, rattle me back to love
my daughter’s hands, the eyes she shares
with her father and I am God’s child
again, still heavy with love.

And it is heavy to love,
to open a body and birth an avalanche
heart that is only ever half mine, to carry her
against impossible mountain and climb
until my legs forget to fear and tremble
beneath the weight of prayer and push,
to recognize the forever of it and stay
wrapping myself around her rolling,
as I am her first skin and she, the pulp
of my disarm, my one true promise.

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