Why I Can't Tell You I Love You
you cannot shut the whole world off as
and when you please.
i was fifteen
my mother, forty-five, fighting
an incessant war with my headphones.
our days were outlined more with
slammed doors and dour glares,
conversations prisoned behind the fear
of exposing the soft-
ness in the way our hearts beat
or pumped blood
to spill over that much love. our hands
our voices, blades –
we were passing the spices, apron-less,
when we learnt
that emotion is governed by strict laws
and we’d been non-conformists
defying the precepts of what constitutes
what followed scathing blisters and
were ice-trays and gauze with a soft-hearted
sneer and side
glances of sympathy.
we were rebels
learning to closet our compassion
and seal it with quiet fidelity.
if you washed the dirty dishes,
and took the clothes out of the dryer,
you would feel
your fingers crinkle and know
that i want to tell you i love you
but i’d rather you relish the lasagne i baked you
and reheat my words
in the cold.