Found: A Valentines Day artifact

Written to Peter Kraus, as a Valentines Day present in 2013, five days after our first kiss…

Valentine’s Day
by Rachael Button

I liked it best when we passed cards
into desktop envelopes
when February 14th felt like a second Halloween,
addressing twenty-five cards to classmates.
I liked it less when student council
sold pink carnations, delivered during final
period to raise funds.

At twenty-three I broke up with a boy
Valentine’s Day weekend
after a drive spent staring at cornfields and feeling nothing
about the future.
We hadn’t said “Happy Valentine’s Day”
when we’d phone-talked on the 14th.
Instead I walked Chicago streets solo, staring at
ice-sculptures
and watching breath billow
as I listened
to Lake Michigan
smack cement-blocked shoreline.

My dog died in Michigan on February 14, 2010.
My parents buried him with their backs to the Millecoquins
River, splitting the frozen ground
with hose-water and pick-axes. They broke earth
heaving grief-heavy bodies
into tools which barely severed soil.
They crumpled together in the snow.

At twenty-seven I’m don’t know what to make
of mid-February but I do know I like eating lunch with you,
our faces pointed sunward.
I like the fearlessness of your feet
as you skitter down mountains.
I like watching you slide
mop-slicked floors
and run ice-slicked roads.
I like the thought you put into your words—
the way you wait for the right ones to come,
the care you use to handle facts.
I like your freckled lips,
the fall of your hair,
the feel of your fingers.
I like that you want to walk all day
and sit in the snow under a star-domed sky
at night.

So I’m writing a February poem for you to press
into your pocket

because today words and gratitude
are what I have to give.

 

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