Dear “Object Permanence”

Image: Lovers, posted at Flickr by Ferdinando Vella under a Creative Commons License.

Dear “Object Permanence”,

I don’t know the creature I am made in love. I reacquaint myself with her every time love comes for me, drags me by the waist into a canefield of my own conjuring. I am wildest where I want to be loved, where I ache to be touched. Nothing moves me so much as the desire of that newness: its prescience, its force, the way it could crush me.

But you tell me about love that’s lived through many seasons, which I confess I know less about when it comes to carnal desire. Do you think it’s possible to forget the way a body feels when it’s touched by hands that desire it? The people within you reach for each other when they wake in the morning, to remind themselves that they inhabit the same space, lie folded into companionate arms in the same bedroom, spit peppermint saliva into the same porcelain washstand, parent the same children or snake plants or superstitions together. You are a container, “Object Permanence”, for the litany of the always-togetherness of some flesh and bone bodies on this earth. You also remind me that to be forever entangled is to live, greedily and anxious, with the perpetual reminder of what waits for us after loving so hard.

I turn to you often. Not because I believe I am made, or even fated for love. Not because I think I am better in love, smarter, sweeter, more accomplished, less haunted. I turn to you because you’re a reminder of the rhythm of love: its susurration, its biomimicry, its solidity even as it slips through the fingers of time. Here’s the truth: I can’t get to the end of you without feeling something give, inside. There’s the sucker punch of that final line, every single time, but it’s not like being hit with a fist at all. It’s like being bladed open delicately with the sharpest instruments of the divine. Not many poems remind me I’m celestial and maggot food at once, but you do. I think you always will. I cannot imagine a better gift than that, a more enduring permanence.

Will you tell me about love until something kills me one day? It might be diabetes. It might be senility. It might be by the hand of a stranger, or in the embrace of someone I hold dear. None of us knows how we’re going to say goodbye to breathing, do we. All we can hope for — the most we can hope for — is that we do it in the arms of someone we adore. “Object Permanence”, I take so much delight in turning you over and over on my tongue, tasting you like the caterpillars gorging on milkweed in your stanzas. You remind me that human love, from the balcony view of the angels, is “brief animation”.

But oh, while it lasts? What fire.

Read “Object Permanence” by Nicole Sealey.