Let us call our love by the name of an old dog. Let it be called Larry. Let its pinched forehead tap our knees under dinner tables. Let its lips pull back a wet black smile and its pads click ecstatically on hard surfaces every time that we come home.
Let us call our love something nice. Let us not confuse the wedding guests. Let us call it, I don’t know, Denise. Let us get it a job as a personal assistant. Let it wear expensive pantyhose and paint its nails at its desk.
Let us call our love not an institution but an institute. Let its concrete headquarters have great air conditioning and a large marble lobby with a patterned floor. When children come through the revolving doors holding their parents’ hands, let them avoid the tiles that are lava. Let their shoes scuff and squeak when they play this game, and let these shoes be cheaply made, because children grow out of their shoes fast.
Let us call our love a pulled muscle. Let us get a prescription for physical therapy. Let us name the physical therapist Kevin. Let him say, be patient with it. Let it hurt for a long time, where the body put itself back together wrong.
Let us call our love by its Latin name, Zerynthia polyxena. Let us pin its wingtips to the page. Let us hold conferences about its migration patterns. At one of these conferences, let two drunk scientists kiss. Let this scandalize a biology department. Let this be the title of our first novel, Entomologists in Love.
Let us call our love one of the X-Men. Let it be feared and misunderstood by humanity. Let collectors trade the issue of its first appearance. Let them take it out of the plastic every few years, let the oils and the acid of their fingers touch its cover, just this once.
Let us call our love America, let us call it the sport of tennis. Let us call it Citizen and Song of Myself. Let us call it elegy and critical theory. Let time-travelers sneak it into the lyrics of old songs. Let teenagers spike the punch with it at prom.
Let us call our love words that don’t belong to us at all. Let us remember how to love the things we say out loud. Let us sign the marriage certificate in every one of these names for love. Let’s see what the State of California thinks of that.
Meghan Kemp-Gee lives somewhere between Vancouver BC and Fredericton NB. She writes poetry, comics, stories, and scripts of all kinds. Her debut poetry collection, The Animal in the Room, is forthcoming from Coach House Books in Spring 2023. She also co-created Contested Strip, the world’s best comic about ultimate frisbee. Find her on Twitter @MadMollGreen.
Photography by: Lorri Guccione