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love, or whatever you call it in some words or less

Weyinmi Barrow

the only concept so idealized
that the thought of living without it
drives us mad, desperate to be within its reach
the range of feelings that describe the warmth
from reminding you of how strong you are
and from your telling me the world is not mine to shoulder
the act of seeing, really seeing all the imperfections, and only seeing beauty
the act of (not) putting me on a pedestal
the act of getting to know each other’s scars without pity
believing that we’re not soulmates
knowing the hard work we’ll need to persevere
understanding when to let go
what you seek at the bottom of the beers you swallow like oxygen
what you chase after before you’re ever ready
what you run away from out of fear
what lonely people mistake for codependence
used to describe the delusions of Juliet and Romeo
and what is always said to be never enough to help, repair, or fix
the word of the feeling I can never say I feel for you
so I give you its proxy: I care about you.

When Love Comes

I knew what love was supposed to be as soon as I finished Cinderella, 

When I was five years old.

Well, I didn’t know, but I knew that if Love walked into the living room, 

Where I sat watching, end credits lighting up the darkness,

I would know.

Love was handsome, Love loved reading.

Love loved to hike, and we would walk up to the top of a hill,

And watch the sun dissolve into the West.

Love was better than my overbearing parents, Love loved my poetry,

And one day,

Love and I would have a small-ish wedding and have three babies and live happily ever after. The end. 

Roll the credits.

I would’ve recognized him before I even knew it was him.

But five-year-old me would be shocked to know that when Love came,

He wasn’t exactly the brightest tool in the box. Academically.

Love loved basketball, Love hated hiking, Love wasn’t philosophical,

But Love, he knew how to live in the now. Love kept me out of my own head, kept me grounded and calm. Love used my stretch marks as a roadmap, admiring how much darker they were than my skin. Love and I treaded lightly on our battle scars, and saw ourselves without pity. Love played the guitar and listened to obscure rock bands and now I love obscure rock bands. Love and I were not always deliriously happy, but we still held hands as our grudges from arguments slipped away.

Love and I lived ever after, apart.

Love was different people, each one so beautiful, so connected to the next, one for every phase in my life. Love was not always romantic. Love was limerence, maybe. Love is always yet to come.

The end?


i’ve never been good with them / always leaving me feeling empty and sentimental / i try to part from things like they don’t matter and i don’t care /but you, ife mi, my love, you proved this wrong / i didn’t even say anything / just dripping tears and avoiding your gaze / the hardest part is / i know i said to never forget me / but i know you will / slowly i will cease to exist / so i must learn the art of forgetting too

you said you’d always love me / and i was special / but i wonder if you only said it to calm me down / because why would someone that loves me try to break me? / take me all this way just to hang me dry / you brushed away my tears with your thumb / and pressed your face on mine / you said a lot of words i didn’t hear / but your face said the most / nothing / stoic, unyielding to emotions you said you felt / or maybe my teary eyes clouded my vision?


either way, my love / in this moment, this second / you are my one, always / with all the anger / and joy / i love you / even though i can never have you / and you, me

ore mi, friend / i love you more than the sun loves to rise every morning / i’ll listen to the resonance of our rebellion / loud and thunderous in our shared subconscious / i’ll savor in the sound of our footsteps / running to the brink of trouble / we’ll remember all the kisses / from people’s sons that we shouldn’t have indulged / we’ll always have all the days that we had / and i promise, i’ll text you tomorrow

maybe, finally, this will be my chance to learn the art of letting go / maybe

Flower Power

For some reason, I am holding hydrangeas

Every time, I am holding hydrangeas

Every time, I am on the steps outside of a church, always, the funeral service is over 

There are four pallbearers ahead, carrying a wooden brown casket

They walk in a slow-paced unison

There are people around them up ahead

Always, I ask whose funeral I am at

And always, I never get a straight answer

As the pallbearers set the casket down 

From a distance, I see it, it is no more closed 

And there is no corpse

Something starts to feel wrong

Everyone’s eyes are on me

I start to move

Slowly, forward, propelled by a force unknown

I am now face to face with this empty, now bloodied casket 

I do not notice the commotion at my feet

The bush of hydrangeas growing at my feet

The thorns piercing through, into my feet

I do not scream

Even as moonflowers curl tightly around my body

I only scream as I fall, long and hard, into this coffin 

And my tears are lilies of the valley

Each one disappearing as it falls from my cheek

The moonflowers sprout faster, grip tighter 

Squeezing me dry of blood, so much it is making a pool 

Around my soon-to-be-lifeless body


I soon, too soon, realize I am the missing corpse.

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