Marlena Raines

“Tell us a love story!” they told me. So I told them ours. 

I. You were bashful when I met you

Quiet—self-contained

And you leaned against the doorframe

as we cheered— 

 

Your name.

 

I tasted it once—twice

to make sure I got it right

Then the evening closed

and I turned my back

 

Unknowing.

 

II. Upon my eyes you fall again

 

Slight droplets in the pond

Yes

 

But rippling water

remembers.

 

III. This time

with the meeting 

rings intention

I take the neighboring chair

 

Your shoulder from a distance

only whispers 

to mine

but I hear.

 

IV. Fading fast

He flickers

Who toyed my mind before

 

Air suspends on friendly feathers

Falling

          fast

                    My past

                               endeavors

Rootless flowers—I find more

 

in your kindness

Wit

Slow-hovering eyes

I know not this flutter

in the cage

 

Or

 

perhaps

 

I do.

 

V. I toss denial over my shoulder

while leaning over yours.

 

Proximity

wars. 

 

VI. You cannot hide at a party

when everyone has gone.

The guest list falls

from postered walls

My shoes untied—unworn

 

Card tricks and music

Coins flipping chance

I stay— 

Take your hands

We learn to dance.

 

We’re halting

and spinning

I’m laughing

You’re grinning— 

 

We’re drunk 

on circumstance.

 

Nothing can mean nothing 

When the music turns slow

Hands on your shoulders

I feel 

you burn below.  

 

 

VII. Losing sleep

down limelit streets

Passing signs—they say you’re mine

 

But I turn my head 

I break things— 

I know.

 

Endangered time.

 

But no stories are written

until you’ve been bitten

by a heart overriding the mind.

 

VIII. So I go find you poring

over books—adoring

the knowing that comes

with time. 

 

About time.

 

I remember

The beginning that began

in November. 

 

IX. November 

is the month of umbrellas

 

Little islands

of lonely passersby

 

But we share

You kiss my hair

Cologne mixed with crispest air

 

“Together” tasting like rain:

purest crystal— 

 

alive. 

 

X. December

turns us gleaming in the ballrooms

 

Concert halls—I fall

each time I see

 

you dressed in black,

Midnight dancing

in the gaze you’ve saved

for me. 

 

But when the sun fizzles out

and the snow sets in

Heads bowed in frigid air

 

You still glisten

though in mittens

 

Fractals in your hair. 

 

XI. January

left me speechless

on canyon’s edge—

King Lear

 

How chilling to leave a heart spilling

Painting striations

till all appears

 

gold. 

 

How bold.

Those whispered words

 

They pass through hallowed lips

And over the waves they sail like ships

No fear found in falling

over Dover’d cliffs— 

 

On winged replies

I soar:

 

“I love you

too.”

 

XII. February

is when they talk about it

It’s when I think about it too

The sight of our hands

and the warmth of your arms

The taste of your laugh—turning blue

into amber

night into day

 

Holes in paper so we can always 

see the stars

 

To greet unknown turns

even though they may burn

 

We’re not alone

because We are

what we are.

 

Alina Martel | alina.martel@yale.edu