All the Small Loves

The streets are empty when we cross them, the boy zooming down the sidewalk in his pedal-driven car, head hunched over the wheel, his elbows out. He goes as fast as his body will let him, every time. I call out the corners, keep my eyes on the dips, and, because there is a danger in closeness I do not need virus to teach, I calculate each probable crisis, mark the paths of every car.

I do not stop all his reckless, do not tame all his wild, even when I consider our impossible flesh, such a fragile container for all it holds, as if we are bodies built only for injury.

There are three men in a row who tell me they want that kind of love found in movies, something sweeping, some great act of gesture, one to measure out my flaws and one to try to fix them, one who wants the drowning of infatuation, and I will think it merely spectacle, know it is always all the small loves that sustain us. The days you were kind because you chose it, even when the edges of your heart ached, even when no one deserved it, not even you. I do not want the boombox on the lawn, nor the chase in the rain, not that midnight, bell tolling.

I do not want the days you waited too long.

On the quiet days, on these empty streets, it will be all the small loves that sustain me, that man, wiping the windowsill, nights on lawn chairs chatting below a moon, that peal of the boy’s laughter, his determined hands on the wheel, his dark hair, flying.

All the small loves, the days you loved because you did not owe it, the days you loved when you did not own it.

Only the days you loved as if it were gift no one ever needed to earn, like when I watch the boy, his dark hair flying, and do not stop him.

Even as my eyes, still on the road before him, mark every curve.

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