love song

Poetry by Paxton Grey

Butterfly on a flower.

we receive instruction from our flesh. instinct
contorting us. i haven’t decided yet 

whether you are a church or a throne, but 
i will pray either way. because this land is more rock 

than soil—a resistance to sowing. still, you scatter seed 
above me. it rains down like blood 

upon the trenches. growth is a violence 
in that way. to take. steal. they will find me 

in the next town over, a supplicant red-handed. but 
with our necks threaded through nooses of sunlight, 

our laughter is clipped.

then you speak softly: i should have died. so we embrace
annihilation too. trace its explosive curves. you

fear that flesh might fade into steel. grease 
lingering around my joints like sinners 

in the pews. but a gift is not to be confused with guilt. 
we are trading gratitude through an open window.

both our ribs may split & we may gorge on each other’s
hearts until we forget whose is whose. share

the extension of muscle. a mutual tugging of sinew. 
how happily i concede nutrient. because a god made me

tired, but you made me gasoline. you were a generation
of arsonists raised in the dark. waiting for me 

to combust.

on the eve of helplessness, my regrets 
lined up bedside to kiss me 

goodnight. my love, a splash of noon during grey weeks.
i unravel before you like an apology, & you

scoop me up. wrap me in the wrinkles that you leave behind,
because there is just one

question: a lantern on the opposite shore. can some part of you
become some part of me? together we can learn

the art of no more wanting. on the anniversary of helplessness,
when our tongues are wagging in their prisons of teeth,

our bruised frames will unleash a soundless
healing. at this altitude, clarity can only be found in gentle

failures. they will blossom into a thousand parted lips until
our breath catches as if 

run against a thorn. 

the canopy sprawled above us was a tent
of calm so large, we could ignore

the ancient guilt inherent in ticking. the stars
signal for help. let someone else break

the light barrier today. better to listen to your 
snores: a reminder that your chest rises and falls. thank you 

for letting me believe in the sanctity of butterfly wings
and a cruel god’s capacity 

to be toppled.

Paxton Grey (he/they) is a transmasculine software developer and poet living in Indiana. His work has been published or is forthcoming in Sundog Lit, Palette Poetry, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Hobart After Dark, and elsewhere. His microchap the war is forthcoming with tiny wren lit (July, 2022). They can be found on twitter @PaxWrites.

Photo by Calvin Mano on Unsplash

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