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There will be times when the barrel of the love
you have for each other will grow empty.
And your once sweet lover
as trees are in the deep dark of winter
The timbers, once red and hot, now dry
ashes, and dust, charcoal, and the one
you once loved
is as distant as you.
Remember how she no longer jumps
when you come in?
That stare, opaque, the dull evening,
darker, and you wonder
where she went, even though
she is right there at that same
old sink, her weathering hands, dry
not of water, but of love and hope
How your arrival is now nothing to her?
And your leaving is nothing to her?
This is the time
to wake up.
Love does not carry around
its own hands or heart or shovel
to drive out ice that has come between you.
Love was not meant to fight
We are the ones who fight
to keep it alive.
Get up, and buckle your pants, buddy,
and look for that girl you knew
when her hair was long, and her eyes,
deep, deep dark brown, and her
smile lit up the heartless heart
that was you.
Push away the dust of distractions
you think will be lasting.
Push away women who stare at you
with empty hearts.
They will be a waste of time.
Sex nights, blankets that chill you
Love is not about sex, not about
free sex, not about the things that
weather and burn and turn to dust.
This is not about wild nights,
not about lust.
Love does not die like a dead tree
even though in the fall, it seems to wane.
Remember that old love,
that first time you met, and go after
the bride of your youth.
She is still there, inside the wrinkles,
inside the greying of her hair,
inside the years of enduring hope,
inside you, behind the smile
that once was.
Copyright 2022 Patricia Jabbeh Wesley
Patricia Jabbeh Wesley is a survivor of the Liberian Civil War who now lives in Pennsylvania. Her many books include Praise Song for My Children: New and Selected Poems (Autumn House, 2020).