“Untitled” by Rachel McKibbens

To my daughters, I need to say:

Go with the one who loves you biblically.
The one whose love lifts its head to you despite its broken neck.
Whose body bursts sixteen arms electric to carry you, gentle,
the way old grief is gentle.

Love the love that is messy in all its too much,
the body that rides best your body, whose mouth
saddles the naked salt of your far gone hips
whose tongue translates the rock language
of all your elegant scars, whose skin triggers
your heart into a heaven of blood waltzes.

Go with the one who resembles most your father.
Not the father you can point out on a map, but the father
who is here. Is your home. Is the key to your front door.
Know that your first love will only be the first.
And the second and third and even fourth
will unprepare you for the most important:

The Blessed. The Beast. The Last love.

Which is, of course, the most terrifying kind.
Because which of us wants to go with what can murder us?
Can reveal to us our true heart’s end and its thirty years
spent in poverty? Can mimic the sound of our birdthroated mothers,
replicate the warmth of our brothers’ tempers?
Can pull us out of ourselves until we are no longer sisters
or daughters or sword swallowers but women.
Who give. And lead. And take and want

and want
and want
and want
because there is no shame in wanting.

And you will hear yourself say:
Last Love, I wish to die so I may come back to you
new and never tasted by any other mouth but yours.

And I want to be the hands that pull your children out of you
and tuck them deep inside myself until they are ready
to be the children of such a royal and staggering love.

Or you will say: Last Love,
I am old, and have spent myself on the courageless,
have wasted too many clocks on less-deserving men, so I hurl myself
at the throne of you and lie humbly at your feet.
Last Love, let me never roll out of this heavy dream of you.
Let the day I was born mean my life will end where you end.
Let the man behind the church do what he did if it brings me to you.
Let the girls in the locker room corner me again if it brings me to you.
Let the wrong beds find me if it brings me to you.
Let this wild depression throw me beneath its hooves if it brings me to you.
Let me pronounce my hoarded joy if it brings me to you.

Let my father break me again and again if it brings me to you.
Last love, I let other men borrow your children. Forgive me.
Last love, I vowed my heart to another. Forgive me.
Last Love, I have let my blind and anxious hands wander into a room
and come out empty. Forgive me.

Last Love, I have cursed the women you loved before me. Forgive me.
Last Love, I envy your mother’s body where you resided first. Forgive me.
Last Love, I am all that is left. Forgive me.
Last Love, I did not see you coming. Forgive me.
Last Love, every day without you was a life I crawled out of. Amen.
Last Love, you are my Last Love. Amen.
Last Love, I am all that is left. Amen.

I am all that is left.

Amen.

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