I wish I didn’t hunger for this so badly
that I would have one so unripe, my plea
for it out of season. We should have both waited.
But we simply couldn’t be sated
by patience. Wanting pretty things is hunger, too,
and having is feasting, denied by few.
A rose alone was all my heart arose to ask.
I wish I offered any other task.
She offers me a love, constructs her heavy feasts,
our hearts’ loads both doubly or more increased,
we share a dim-hoped home for all our harried dreams.
I listen stilly, counsel naked screams
while nurturing a hope of love so high and fae
in this home that it anchors me to stay.
I count her gargoyle-scars, try salving each one’s source
in the prayer that it smooths romance’s course
after my anxious picking out of its season.
I patch the wounds with pages, with reason;
I knew what I was getting into when I came.
I thought that time would be breeze to the flame.
But upon arrival, what would greet me before
but pageantry and handsomeness galore!
To find the filling of any whim I’d foster
without a call of what it had cost, her
eagerness to share a table, be unfearsome,
unspool some deeper starmap or theorem
to the core of her tragic heats, her imprinting
on other bodies’ loves and fears sinking
through their depths, transmitting from campus roofs, cyan
images of seraphs’ full wingspan,
or any of the other pinprick-dreams at four
in the morning that she’d meekly endure.
I saw her wrestle with tea plates, scream the channels
of ink angels, call me out of panels
for fear of what would make of me if I stayed too
long. Wanting pretty things is hunger. You
must imagine I looked to be in this mess all
my own—my rose-begging made this my home.
And you’d not be mistaken. I dreamt of beauty
open and consuming me as duty,
casket-lips to sleep within forever enrapt.
Well, this is what clasped shut—the petals snapped
upon me wriggling. All I have now are dreams
of the beauty-thing coming to me, beams
of awe and clawlessness that trigger guilts in me.
What about the host here that I can see?
How greedy am I? To want a calm without the roar,
to wish to not walk a glass-cragged floor?
Isn’t love patience? Am I just the kind of thing
that impatiently keeps petal-plucking,
that makes the rose about me and gnashes at thorns?
That loves the feast, and bathes the host in scorns?
Just like a man, a child, a bitter babe like me.
Wanting pretty things is hunger. Carefree
and willing to do anything to earn this rose.
I guess at least I held to what I chose.
When she opens roars in sleep, I tend to each cry.
I wash the plates, I wipe the glasses dry.
I beg for home, but soft, when she erases their
numbers from the phone and calls it trust; share
reluctance to even venture past the garden
gates, to not watch her narrow heart harden.
But I need to see home, to share the joy and pang
of this one rose’s crimson and its fang.
They beg me stay a month, and weakly I say yes.
The weight of love must take more rest, I guess.
They tell me this attachment escapes their belief.
But here I am, at dinner. Their relief
can warm a time-cooled mug. They beg me stay four weeks
more. That won’t hurt her, no? The night air speaks
on her behalf—a threat that my distance steals her
breath, that if I meant it, I would defer
to her horses, or her blade, come castleward swift,
or admit my bitter heart has made a shift.
I cling to the dream, of wolf-lady lying still.
I wonder of the other princess-dream’s will.
Would that girl ever cry that love means sharing thorns?
Would that girl look as pushful under horns?
The lady of the castle fumes for me to die
and prove I’d dash my own calm at her cry.
I refused. What kind of belle did I think I was?
O, I must have broken all the soft laws
that make a prince—why turn your back on such a dear?
Once claws and lashes come, you cry out fear?
I stay a while of weeks at home without a plea.
I long for love still, this time silently.
I choose the humble warmth of books, hearth, the younger
dream-rose. Wanting pretty things is hunger.
© 2020 Brandon O'Brien