After I try to give you happiness
what you unwrap is box
of yellowjackets, stinging
nettles, and jellyjars filled with broken glass.
This is not for the cottonhearted.
This is for the man who holds fire
between his fingers and calls it love.
We are burnt
toast and prism jam.
We are rubbing ourselves
with the underside of a fern
trying to make the stinging stop.
There are remedies everywhere—
from beekeeper’s honey to handmade
soap—we are told what to hold
near our skin. We are the stained
towels and the sainted
bohemian monarch that can’t fly.
Or doesn’t want to.
I place a constellation in my hand,
then complain about the burning.
Life weighs me down when I am tired.
Let’s not pretend we have rocks
in our pockets. Though I always pretend
I am the novelist and you are the river.