To Emily

beaver statues downtown Portland, OR

Pretend I am a hermit crab ensconced in my chitinous chambers, crossing my ten arms over my heart to prevent love from escaping. Smile through the tears like sun through rain and I will open like a book so you can read the plain words I was trying to hide: YOU ARE WONDERFUL.

See, I am just a cold ball of dough, languishing on Grandma’s counter like a blobfish while she mixes up the secret soup. But just you wait: in time, just before the sun shuts down for the night, I will rise and burgeon around you, a cocoon of crisp, buttery, piping-hot challah sprinkled with sesame seeds of joy. Dip them in the soup to taste the music: YOU DESERVE SUNSHINE.

When I spoke to you in the cold glass box where the pianos and we sheltered from the rain, I was still in my stone form, paralyzed by the snakes with eyeliner eyes – I could not move to wrap my arms around you because my elbows were cast in gray rock. When the rain washed away my conscience I could see what I meant to do was hug you, read you a fairytale, or cook you a masterful Shabbat repast. But now that rock had morphed to bone and flesh your tears were pouring faster than the rain the night was falling faster than we fall out of love and I didn’t want to taste the snakes that bit both our hearts so I slithered away to write you this poem instead.

Maybe one day you’ll read it. But the most important thing is that you climb your mountain and hear the ice of ages melting in the wind, whispering: YOU WILL WIN.

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