Rike Kristos | Lovetidation

but I fear I lack the courage to accept it, I can’t

look it in the face & say, I’ve been waiting for you, welcome!

all through october I watched it sprout; a beginning

so patient yet terrifying. I felt it on the first night

when I dissolved in response to your hands,

the night when my overripened cheeks

went hurting from all that laughter. I felt it

yesterday as my room lit up from the headlights

on your car right outside my window; same feeling

after you gently rapped at my door twice — our agreed sign

to announce your arrival. your image in my head is a luxury,

the sweetest luxury ever. I think

up a question to ask time, for how long should I hold on to this?

because my mind is a child

is a vast field is a body is a wacky thing, yearning

to love; to be loved,

even when it’s unsure of the possibilities.

I am undone by the joy I feel.

by design, it should never be that way. it should never feel like

I am wrestling with my own judgements of what could be true

or not. there are certain things I’m keeping

from you. like the one dream I had of you.

I am on the synthetic ice rink again, everyone looking

just like you; the kids, the old couples, the skate rental attendants,

the on-ice guard who says, go easy, go slow. here, take my hand,

I’ll teach you how to skate. the wind embraces me

while I’m fighting to keep my balance; the colony of giggles

around me, the grasshoppers, the american elms, the sun shining

as if it rehearsed beforehand, my bumped tongue

from an accidental bite all join in the embrace. what really happened

on the actual day, how I remember it

is me sitting & trying on the skating shoes & complaining

that I couldn’t find my size & you standing next to me,

with the absolute cheerfulness that you wore,

saying the syllables of my native name slowly

so you could get it right. that day, the joy returned,

slicing through me & overflooding. I stifled my smile

upon the realization that the o in joy

is the same in love; o to mean the only one meant for you,

but maybe for now. if I were to name this joy,

with all of its gifts, I would fail to give it a fitting one.

I would fail since I lack faith in its nature,

having discarded that faith when it wouldn’t serve me

anymore. my mind is a hermit,

the animal sitting in the dirt, adamant.

it betrays the maddening that accompanies this joy.

it underestimates the need for a surrendering.

it knows hurt so well that it rejects anything good.

look, I have written you a story.

in the story you are synonymous with joy,

the easy, blossoming version.

look, I have written myself a story,

one in which I stop & say to myself,

so this is it, this is the part where I silence all my doubts.

Ohia, Ernest Chigaemezu is an MFA candidate in Poetry at the University of Alabama, and the poetry editor for ArtsLounge. Ernest’s creative writing has appeared or is forthcoming in publications including  Lolwe, Rigorous, Nantygreens, Agbowo, The Muse, 20:35, and elsewhere. He is also an associate poetry editor for Black Warrior Review, and a reader for West Trade Review.