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Marsheila Rockwell
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For Lily and her eyetongues

Love is a hungry word
Hollow, needful
Lying thick on the tongue, and sharp
With a coppery tang
Not unlike blood
Though its stain
Far more difficult
To wash away

I spoke it only once
In the days when this juxtaposition
These star–crossed wires
Were new, novel
A parlor trick to amuse my friends
When I still had more than one
More than you

I’d healed from the accident
A head–meet–pavement moment
Back when black
Was just a color
And did not come with its own
Sweet and sour scent
Quite apart from licorice
Or asphalt
And there were no such things
As helmet laws

I was reading to my little sister
Her favorite book, once mine
Where the Wild Things Are
Full now of improbable smells
I would forever wrongly ascribe
To the jungle
Cinnamon blues and cotton candy browns
And yellows that reeked of ammonia

And when we got to the part
Where Max sails away
And the Wild Things say
“Oh please don’t go —
“We’ll eat you up —
“We love you so!”
I looked at her
And I did

The doctors blamed it on my brain injury
And they weren’t wrong
But they weren’t altogether right, either
For it wasn’t the jumbled association
Or the misfiring synapses
That made me attack her
It was the word itself

Never satisfied
Except by its object

I learned then
Never say it
Never hear it
And never, ever feel it

But sometimes
Standing by her headstone
Its grey curves luminescent in the moonlight
And smelling, of all things
Like pumpkin pie
The craving returns

And I think, perhaps
My sweet, sangria–haired Lily —
With your skin that feels like Beethoven
And your kisses all brassy jazz —
Tonight is the night
I finally bare my heart to you

Have you ever read
Elizabeth Barrett Browning?
“How do I love thee?
“Let me taste the ways.”


  • Marsheila Rockwell

    Multiple Scribe and Rhysling Award nominee Marsheila (Marcy) Rockwell has authored six novels, two collections, and dozens of short stories and poems, including several collaborations with her writing partner, Jeff Mariotte. She is currently finishing up her seventh novel, the second book in a trilogy based on Neil Gaiman’s Lady Justice comic books. Visit her online at

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