I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t been granted my share
of closeness—an unexpected hug from the girl
I’ve been pining over, or the sort of friend who figures out
how to get through to me when I’ve curled up
like an aggravated hedgehog, and once, the kind of love
that felt like it was big enough to hold me and all my flaws,
even though it only worked as long as I sat on them
and shoved them down enough that I could zip shut
my slender perfectionist suitcase. But never mind that.
It’s the feeling that counts, right?
I’ve even known the kind of love that my cat still
shows me after I’ve wrapped him in one arm
while shoving a pill down his throat, quickly
so he doesn’t gag too much. There’s no way to tell him
it’ll make him feel better, no way to tell him I’ll be back
when he stares as I roll my luggage out the door.
And yet he purrs when I come near. And yet he falls asleep
in my arms each night, nuzzles me awake in the morning.
Is this that thing called grace, which I’ve always been too dense
to understand? Or else it’s the kind of Stockholm syndrome
that anyone might develop, sitting inside a church
convincing themselves that what hurts and controls them
loves them too. I can’t stand not knowing which.
And if God is out there fretting that our devotion
isn’t really love, I guess that’s another kind of closeness:
this unexpected sympathy for that old son of a bitch.