How You Know

How You Know
by Joe Mills
How do you know if it’s love? she asks,
and I think if you have to ask, it’s not,
but I know this won’t help. I want to say
you’re too young to worry about it,
as if she has questions about Medicare
or social security, but this won’t help either.
“You’ll just know” is a lie, and one truth,
“when you still want to be with them
the next morning,” would involve too
many follow-up questions. The difficulty
with love, I want to say, is sometimes
you only know afterwards that it’s arrived
or left. Love is the elephant and we
are the blind mice unable to understand
the whole. I want to say love is this
desire to help even when I know I can’t,
just as I couldn’t explain electricity, stars,
the color of the sky, baldness, tornadoes,
fingernails, coconuts, or the other things
she has asked about over the years, all
those phenomena whose daily existence
seems miraculous. Instead I shake my head.
I don’t even know how to match my socks.
Go ask your mother. She laughs and says,
I did. Mom told me to come and ask you.

0 thoughts on “How You Know

  1. nice poem. I like writing that analyzes these words that really defy definition. but here’s what I think about love:
    my mom and dad have been together for almost 30 years. They fight and call each other names all the time. do they love each other? I don’t know. not that it matters, because really it’s just about relationships and knowing what to expect from that other person, isn’t it?

    1. cloyd, i’m sorry to hear that : / it’s a fight, that’s for sure. when people know each other forever they take their shit out on one another because the fear of abandonment, which we all decidedly have considering we’re interdependent, lessens. i hope it works out, sounds like it really sucks. my parents got divorced shortly after i was born. o_o

      1. You know it’s funny, I didn’t consciously think that the dysfunctional relationship between my mom and stepdad sucked. I just kinda thought it is what it is. But having you say it, I guess it did. But I’m sure people have endured worse. I was just trying to make a point about love is all. But thanks for your sympathy.
        Sorry to hear about your parents, by the way.

        1. parents are just the root of the baobab. dad is a fuckface but mom is a local missionary that would do anything for anyone, i am truly lucky, haha. i have such a hard time accepting ‘it is what it is’. i’m very much so coming out of the closet about ‘it is what it is’, as far as my ‘conditions’ go

  2. I love this little gem.
    It is clear, well written and is most importantly, accesible.
    It communicates with the reader and doesn’t leave me asking “what does this mean?”. No one likes poetry if it has to be explained to them.
    Nice work.

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