What We Know of Love

What we know of love is born of its twisting,
corkscrew-sharp, into the spirit, the sweet skewering
of will. The gentle pierce before it is rent from us,
bloody and fierce, beating as though
it does not know it is severed and spent.
We know love like a series of blows
that we struggle, again and again,
to crawl below for one more sweet kiss
of the steel-tipped boot,
to gaze into the beloved's eyes
before our vision is occluded by blood.
We know love like whipped dogs who come,
starving, to lick at the scraps. Like dogs
we flinch beneath the raised strap. Like dogs
we belly forward. Like dogs we cringe
into the shins of the beloved.
What we know of love we disarm like a bomb.
We don the gear: the body armor, the flame-proof gloves, approach
with sweat-slicked hands to pause trembling
over the red wire and the blue-
fear like a fly buzzing-time stretched like a trap,
frozen in the moment of decision, to sever
what we know of love like an aborted child.
Tears explained away as sweat.
Ears ringing. Heartsick. Straining for the release
of detonation.

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