National Poetry Month 2021

why’s it so hard to love?

unworthiness isn’t something I don’t recognize, I’m not sure when I felt it first, or when I stopped believing I was. I just remember always feeling something was wrong with me, something was inherently wrong with me. I was walking down the street once and was wearing a “Cure” shirt, and as I crossed the street a man yelled, “The curse is gone, you’re cured. Don’t worry anymore.” Before that two gypsies came into the sunglass hut where I worked and told me that someone had put a curse on me before I was born. My dad’s mistress they said. They asked if my parents still had sex. I said not since I was born, she said that was your mother’s punishment. So I suffered his adultery and carried his burdens. After that, I went to my sister’s house and her girlfriend’s mother who’s dead now, said I had a visitor always tagging along. The dogs barked at me incessantly, she said it was a bad ghost, a demon—she had to clean me before I entered the house. She read my shells, doused me in rum, smoked a cigar and read the ashes for me. made me delicious food and then the dogs stopped barking. The unworthiness remained, and now I feel as if I carry out the curse as if it’s something I refuse to part with. something so ingrained, it has morphed into my limbs, my eyes, my heart. I was cured from the burden, not the agony. how do I forgive and unbuckle the abortions from my chest? how do I kill what’s already dead? how do I love completely without fear? fear equals love because fear becomes its bodyguard. always ready to drown whatever comes to surface. a writhing fish, a blowhole punctured on top of its sweet head. why’s it so hard to love? because love came with conditions and with a freezing hand. love came in cages and in red buckled shoes. love was something strangers gave me in their beds. love was what I felt when I listened to Madonna and George Michael. love was food and toxic sex. love was loving married men or old men who enjoyed taking care of my wounds while asking me to spread my legs. it’s easy to love in those ways, not much awareness is required. love is patience and disagreements, love is mundane, love is laundry and headaches. love is a silence that frightens me. silence has never been allowed, in the womb I heard my mother cry and soldiers demand food. I heard my father yell and I heard the bustling town trying to exist while falling apart. outside the womb there was music and bombs, hail and birds, vendors and the soft cries of not understanding the pain between my legs. silence has followed me, and I have always run away from it. a shifting and tussling invades my skin when I am still. I am frightened of it, invisible fingers tapping me to remain in that silence, to know that love is silent, to know that it isn’t always robust, it sometimes sounds like nothing at all.