1018: Cuffing Season

20231212 SD

1018: Cuffing Season


I’m Major Jackson and this is The Slowdown.

Some are not convinced that romance is an essential human experience. Everyone falls in love, you say, at least once in their life. Maybe it's true. But what if that one time went awry? Or the second time, or even the third—rejections that are the source of why we cry so hard.

Save the rom coms for the believers, they say. The non-believers possess a shield-like understanding of their emotional and physical needs and prefer to keep saccharine feelings like love high up on the shelf – too messy anywhere else. Or, maybe their careers give them greater purpose than the vicissitudes of a beloved. Or maybe they are down with fervent passion and desire, but also know they are not cut out for a heteronormative vision of love, or monogamy in movies.

I value people who give society an occasion to know when entrenched values, religiously informed or socially decided, might not necessarily apply to all. They are beacons for others to embrace their natural selves—which is why I celebrate every incarnation of their love as it manifests, between them and other humans, or simply, as expressed as a statement of their freedom. I want everyone to feel like they belong. I admire the solidity and courage of their self-making that feels true to them.

Love is a force that reconciles what is, in contradistinction, wrong in the world. Because I know that love is real, and that love is right. But sometimes finding love is a journey that takes longer than some but is worth it.

Today’s poem wrestles with the tentativeness by which relationships are pursued, given the scariness of their potential outcomes.

Cuffing Season
by Lisa Fay Coutley

When Buddha said silence is an empty
space & space is the home of the awakened

mind, he hadn’t yet crossed his legs
& held his spine both firm & calm

in the smoke-filled avocado kitchen 
of my small girlhood. What is quiet

time after fifteen thousand sunrises
a child might describe as a backhand

bruise or blood pooled to one corner
of a crooked room? Across the table

from a man who sees the lilt of tiger
lilies when I speak, my thighs say there

is another way to approach this quiet.
For me, he swears, he’ll be wide-eared

& broad-armed & I think who wouldn’t 
want to be loved as silently as a photo

of a baby goat—shielded as one’s own 
bones. I’m no different from the group

of scientists trying to locate the music
inside the noise of human life just to 

find silence raising its obscene hand.
Stick to the plan, my mirror reminds 

me in her Venus flytrap voice, it’s time 
again: kneel to each burning leaf learning

return means to stop reaching for reasons
to stay in a lullaby’s muted wish & just go.

"Cuffing Season" by Lisa Fay Coutley. Used by permission of the poet.