I never thought speaking the truth
Could be a sin.
I never thought a lie could be holy.
But I perjure myself every night
Since I met you,
Knowing it’s my only salvation.
I would damn myself beyond God’s
Grace if I let escape the searing
Truth that burns deeper into my
Heart every day.
It would be no less than I deserve,
But I can’t risk taking you with me.
So I won’t confess until
The judgment bar itself compels me.
And the truth, so simple and yet
So forbidden to my lips, is this:
That you’re beautiful.
You’re beautiful, just like that.
No makeup. No lipstick.
No heels. No lace.
Just you—barefoot and pregnant,
Your enlarged womb visible now
Behind the modest covering
Of your favorite Sunday dress
(Even though it isn’t Sunday),
Endowing you with the exalted
Glory of a Mother Goddess.
A dress short enough for me to see
The angelic glow of your pale legs,
Horripilated like your arms at the
Algid pat of the hardwood floor
Against the delicate soles of your feet.
A neckline just low enough to catch
A hint of the mischievous freckle
Tapestry that adorns your chest.
Crusader. Healer. Neighbor. Friend.
There are so many things I can call you.
But I can’t call you beautiful.
Even though God knows it’s true.
Even though you deserve to hear it
Every day of your life—
But not from me.
Because everything you deserve
Is everything I can never give you.
Because it isn’t enough
To say I love you.
That I love you when you struggle
So adorably to find the right word.
That I love how red your face gets
At the slightest bit of sun.
And I love the quiet, graceful way
You dutifully attend a houseful of
Making blithe small talk here and there,
Giving a dignified laugh,
But never descending into their
Churlish noise from you queenly restraint.
I love how naturally you’ve won
My daughter’s trust.
How you listen so attentively,
So sincerely, as she tells you
Every little thing that happened at school.
I loved you when you held my son
At the bottom of the stairs—so
Warmly and gently while
You kept him safe.
You didn’t know I was looking.
It’s just who you are—
Overprotective of others,
Devil-may-care about yourself;
A deadpan realist on the surface,
A hopeless idealist beneath it;
An unassuming stay-at-home mom by day,
By night, a passionate shield-maiden
Who inwardly delights in being
The center of attention.
And I loved you when you crept up
Behind me without a word and put a
Warm towel on my back, over my
You went on your way just as silently
As you came.
But in the brief moment you looked
Into my eyes, you spoke the words
I’ve needed to hear all my life.
Because in that moment, I mattered to you.
In that moment, I was someone in your eyes.
When I feel like deluding myself,
I imagine there was something
More in your touch than hostly etiquette.
That your gaze was something more than
An obligatory polite acknowledgement.
I imagine that I could become the kind of man
In whose arms you can peacefully fall asleep.
The kind of man you can show off to your friends,
Take home to your parents.
We both know I could never be
Part of your world.
And I know I could only ever hurt you.
I’ve committed many sins, and if they
Should be written every one, even the
World itself could not contain the
Books that should be written.
I’ve committed sins small and great.
But the greatest of them all
Is loving you.
How dare I?
How dare I dream?
How dare I hope to dream?
Forgive me for loving you.
I just couldn’t help it.
I want your forgiveness.
But true forgiveness eludes me
So long as I cling to illusions
I could be free of this pain,
But I won’t ask God for respite.
Because the only deliverance from
The anguish of this unreturned love
Is to stop loving you.
And that I won’t do, even though
I know it seals my fate—
And from Hell’s flames I’ll look
Up at you and call you beautiful
Until eternity runs through.
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