Maybe Love and Thank You Mean the Same Thing



















I wish I could write you a love poem.
Write the lines like I hear in old folk songs:
the kind that slow your heart
just a beat or two, and fill your core
with a hint of wistful longing.

I don’t want young infatuation,
head-over-heels, mad-about-you twitterpation.
So maybe what I need is patience,
waiting for a quiet passion,
a learned cadence of wanting and needing?

But I wish I had a heart open for breaking.
One ready to love boundlessly,
eager to take you along with me.
I am tired of the steady aching,
as I watch myself so slowly wasting.

I hunger for the rush of something intoxicating,
for something good to take my breath away.
I want zest and zeal, to finally feel
light. Instead of heavy-laden -fraught.
I thought maybe I could try now, but

I find myself wishing I wanted you
If only because then I would at least be wanting
something. Anything at all.
I am sorry for how this may be disappointing.

I wish I wanted you like
you seem to want me:
freely and openly.
Rather I am haunted by hesitation,
ghosts of past trepidation that will not leave me be.

If I wrote you a love poem today,
it would sound like a thank you note.
But someone just told me that
“I love you” never meant much,
while “thank you” always did.

So I would say:
“Thank you,
for not running away
because this is not easy or even very fun.
Because I am messy and I am scared.

Thank you, for standing still when
I am skittish.
I am scarred,
both literally and figuratively, but
you trace your fingers along the bumpy ridges.

Maybe I am too honest when I say that
I don’t miss you every day, and
it means just as much for you
to spend time with my friends and family
as it does to spend time with me.

Because there are so many days when all I want
is to stay in bed and
spending time on anyone feels too expensive.
I realize it’s an unfamiliar perspective for you to see
that loving those I love is more effective sometimes than directly loving me.

But I thank you for your patience,
your solid presence and willingness to learn.
In not asking for anything,
I know I am asking a lot.
And your understanding is a gift you are not asking me to earn.
Thank you.”

I wish at times to be more traditional,
more romantic and affectionate,
more lost in the fiction of adoration.
But I am grounded in the here and now,
where love is hard-fought, but beautiful.

I value more that we can be truthful
than any ability to get lost in one another.
Perhaps that’s a merciful grace of being less youthful,
we’ve discovered unconventional things to be more suitable.
So even though I do wish

I could make promises that sound pretty and lyrical,
wish to say the things you want to hear,
because the reality of my love is sometimes ugly and hard to bear.
I can offer only what I have to give, and of this sometimes it is so little:

I admittedly stand caught between past and present truths,
hoping that moving forward slowly will bring
now unseen miracles of healing.
Nonetheless, I count us blessed to have hope in higher things.
Hope which allows for even wider and wilder dreams.



  1. Tammy Babad · · Reply

    Elyse, you touch me deeply. Love you.

  2. Straight to the heart – reminds me of my ‘love letter to my best friend’

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