The romance industry conflates finding love with looking a certain way, and it’s hard even for the strongest of us not to internalize messages about the way we look. And worse, these messages are normalized. Just think of things people say when they are getting ready to date someone: ‘He’s cute,’ ‘He’s short,’ ‘He’s kind of chubby,’ ‘He’s tall and fine.’ Or men: ‘I prefer slender girls,’ ‘I’m not really into fat girls,’ ‘I prefer Asian chicks,’ and on and on. It is completely acceptable to say the most appalling things about the way people look when it comes to dating, and if someone is called out for it, their opinion becomes a matter of ‘preference.’What gets ignored in calling this level of categorization ‘just preference’ is a history and culture of mainstream advertising that impacts our psychology, causing us to actually want to respond to certain things over others. It’s hardly a coincidence that people are attracted to images of femininity that have been beaten into their psyches….We are taught to prefer certain things over others, and when we repeatedly see the same exaggerated images of femininity and masculinity, we internalize a specific standard of beauty and begin to strive for it unconsciously. Considering the exaggerated nature of these kinds of images, preference is not really a ‘preference’; it is more like a culturally sanctioned fetish.
You are always
ticking inside of me and I dream of you
more often than I don’t.
My body is a dead language
and you pronounce
each word perfectly.
We go on to poetry; we go on to life. And life is, I am sure, made of poetry. Poetry is not alien—poetry is, as we shall see, lurking round the corner. It may spring on us at any moment.
I believe that we are put here in human form to decipher the hieroglyphs of love and suffering. And, there is no degree of love or intensity of feeling that does not bring with it the possibility of a crippling hurt. But, it is a duty to take that risk and love without reserve or defense.
A silence like an answer, a silence of both resignation and expectation; a past and not past.
It is the sweetener I use to taste the world.
It trickles from my body like sweat.
How could my love be so great if that love
throbbed unqualified? Return to sleep,
oh superfluous one, and we’ll stand sentry
above your uselessness—I with my doubting,
my anger with its club, and melancholy
with its constant image of a double world:
the one, our burden, and the other, our dream.