How to Cultivate Fragile Things


By Florence Helbing

Put the thing you love in a jar and tell it
over and over how much you care.
Use beautiful language, so it knows
you’re serious.

Some examples:
            My heart is a hummingbird, or
            my heart is a knot, loosening, or
            my heart is a mosquito hovering
            around your head, drunk
with the promise of blood.

Repeat this until one of two things happens.
            One: it breaks free, kicks you
                        and keeps kicking you. If you wake up,
                                     you’ll have internal bleeding.
                                               But you may not wake up.
            While being kicked, try explaining:
                      All love is an imposition. I wanted to keep you safe for me,
                      I wanted to possess you. Isn’t that the best you can hope for?
            
See if that helps.

            Two: it dies because you forgot to poke holes in the lid.
                                    You suffocated it, you miserable idiot.
                                                            Live with that, why don’t you!

            If you feel guilty, talk to the corpse:
                       Violence is a better expression of love than tenderness.
                       Someone always dies at the end. I’ll reconstruct you,
                       better than before. This time you’ll be happy, too.
            If you’re an optimist, you can actually try.


Florence Helbing is based in Chicago and working towards an MFA in poetry at Fairleigh Dickinson University. She also does Russian translation.  

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