from the desert, once a week.

Sometimes, when I whisper for my cat to join me, she does. Hops or crawls up, her thick pink belly swinging. She folds her paws under herself and stares at me, angles herself to be pet the way she likes.

Other times, she will not.

This is love. Coming and watching and sometimes saying no, with your body. Mostly, though, saying yes with everything.

//

Middle of the day, I am crying. My friend reaches for her coffee and I think she is going to hug me. I bark, “I don’t want a hug! No!”

Middle of the night, I am sleeping. My friend wakes me by standing in my doorway. I yell “Hey!” in my half sleep, she tells me.

This is also love.

//

Two little burrs in my feet from walking the land barefoot. This is also love.

//

My cup of pens and that each one makes me think of someone for reasons no one, not even them, would find interesting. This is also love.

//

Any time anyone else has poured me a cup of coffee.

//

That the birds don’t dive-bomb us. This could be survival, but I think it’s love.

//

When you leave the bed quickly after.

//

When we post photos of the fire skies to share with each other. I see it, do you see it? There is so much I am trying to gather and say.

//

Every fan blowing. Every pile of free books on a stoop in Park Slope that I looked at when I was 20. Every plant. Every tree. All of the insects I don’t want in my house who remain faithful to the routines of their own life.

Every creosote bush I called a juniper tree who never got mad at me.

Every time a phone call interrupts something, I see your name, and remember my actual priorities are connection, empathy, and care.

//

Every time we try to have a conversation with someone we disagree with. Every community fridge. Every cooler with free water on all of these hot days.

Wanting things to be better. Wanting to ignore, sometimes, that things are not (yes, even this is an act of love, not all the other things we call it now).

//

That I am here to write this.

//

This is also love.

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writer & former librarian • A LIGHT forthcoming from Chicago Review Press 2022 • amandaoliver.comtinyletter.com/decorouslines

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