(The idea with this poem is to start with a bit of order and meter, and then let it fall apart by the end, structurally, as a picture of Love’s journey forgetting what it is.)

What happened to you, Love?
When did you become so cheap
When did you forget what you are
When did you lose your ability to stand

You once knew the way to hold
The way to stand with and stand in pain
To never leave no matter the feelings felt
And endure and choose to remain, still

You once had an example from which to draw
Of willingness to die rather than leave alone
And laying down rights, not fighting for them
To consider another more than yourself

The example was clear, to run to the other
To dust each other off and hold hands to go forward
To never relent and never give up
To never place a condition on holding, caring

What happened to you, Love?

Did a lie seep in and get you to see
Another form of happiness found elsewhere
A way to be more alive by focusing on self
And the hope that you could restart love with another

I don’t think you work like that, Love
You lose your nature when you stop with one
You become empty when you try to start with another
That’s not you, Love. That’s something far less.

That is guarded and protected, boundaried
Trying to promise again to another
But having no one trust you because you broke love
You can’t promise again and have it mean anything

What happened to you, Love?

While we’re here, can I just ask
When did you become so focused on you
And when did anyone telling you that
become someone to place a boundary around and push aside?

Love, do you hope you can be strong again
Do you think you’ll ever mean anything again
Do you think anyone will ever believe you again
And choose your cheap form?

What happened to you, Love?

I’ve never known you to be like this
To leave, and give up, and run at discomfort
I knew you to be a rock and anchor
To be unreasonable and stupid, by common sense

That’s who you are, Love.
That’s what we all love about You
You never give up, never step aside
You never stop hoping, caring, giving. To death

When you stop being that, you’re not you
You’re just ‘affection’ or something less
But that’s not you, Love
We’ve seen so much better from you

You’ve made people say, “that makes no sense!”
And stood by when everyone and everything inside said run
You’ve cared for your enemy
You’ve inspired us and made us shake our head

You’ve given shots every day when the cancer was winning
You held hair back when the vomit was coming
You tried to empathize when you couldn’t understand
You’ve held another and got snotty and let tears get on your shirt, when there were no words
You stuck around for 60+ years, and there was a lot of shit in those years, like everyone has
I’ve seen you continue to stand with an alcoholic
Deadbeat. Rebellious kid. Sick parent.
You remain. You stand. You move toward, even if you know it’s going to cost you. No matter what.

That‘s you, Love. That’s who you really are
That’s who you’ve always been
That’s what we trust and expect from you
That’s what books and movies are written about
That’s what we clap for when someone announces “they’ve been married for 53 years”
You’re not a number. You’re a number of decisions and choices, to go after and hold on

That’s you. Don’t sell yourself short
Don’t let the lies in, and don’t think remembering who you are is weakness
Strength isn’t running. Strength is standing with.
Not breaking your promise. Not abandoning.
Staying. Standing. Remaining.

I don’t recognize you anymore. None of us do
Now you call a hammer good and compassion bad
You focus on you first, and others somewhere after
You’re hard and cold, and hope that leads to happiness.

Over a couple years, you became a castle with huge, sturdy walls
A giant moat and drawbridge.
There’s one way in, and that’s only if you allow it
You’ve proudly built this, show it off, and tell others how to build it too
Meanwhile joy, life and relationship are screaming at you from outside and you cannot hear them.
True happiness is yelling from outside the walls
Hoping maybe one of the guards might hear and pass the note along
But a castle takes a long time to build, and you don’t tear them down in a day, especially when you think the castle is good

Every day you put more stones on your castle wall
It’s getting higher, thicker, stronger
Everyone who used to have direct access now must speak to the guard at the gate
They all cry in despair at what once was
Many won’t be stopping by anymore, because they know what real love is and they don’t recognize you anymore.

This isn’t you.

What happened to you, Love?