How to Speak to Lovers – Alice Minium

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I am good at speaking to lovers. There is an art to it, you know. It’s not quite flirting and it’s entirely different from conversation, that language. The things lovers say to each other are similar across relationships, cultures, and time. The soft coos, the passion-charged goodbyes all echo a similar phrasing.

Most of all, the similarity is in the way we try to express those moments to each other- those most deeply personal, intimately shared soul-moments that are by their very nature inexpressible. The way you feel towards that person, that singular, solid, and seemingly divine feeling that you’re experiencing something entirely different than an act or a moment or even the curvaceous gestures of flirtation.

It is a moment that lends itself to silence, that is felt between two people. It is in the soul. It is something fundamentally soul-shattering and unifying at once, something that grips absolute and complete control of you and is utterly unlike whatever is felt in the normal realm of human experience and interaction.

We fear to communicate this. Our life weighs on communicating this. To lay name to it is not a means of explaining what you want to do to another person, even if that is the thought pattern chosen, it is something that has been done to you.

I have heard it from many lovers, the whispered, fearful attempts to echo a fragment of what you are feeling to the most important person who needs to understand how you feel it. It is fear and horror and by its nature poetry at the same time. They are druglike, these words: religious, surreal, commanding a severance from the norm with the power of a kind of magic. It knows no reason.

I have had many lovers, and, at times, what distinguishes them in my heart is their poetry or their flatness in how they say that Thing which cannot be put into words but which, by being spoken, can have the power to command or awaken that Thing in the heart of the other.

I want you. I need you. I have never felt this way before.

I thought I knew what love is before I met you. You are my heart. You are the poetry of the universe incarnate, and you are the only poem I want to hear the rest of my life. Your every movement, every etch of your mouth and every flicker of your eyes writes a poem in me, it commands me, it is a lullaby and an awakening at once, it is the greatest relief I have ever felt and the most beautiful song I have ever heard and the most majestic sunset I have ever seen. It is the night sky, it is alien consciousness, it is, perhaps God, in that moment, if there is one, he is more beautiful than I ever imagined and he paints a picture in you and flowers with the most primal and profound utter magic of creation that must be the only single fragment of reality in this universe, the fragment of ecstatic dust in the first explosion of matter that burst forth into becoming everything we ever know, the fabric which knits together the night sky and suspends the stars like throbbing singing neurons in their places, the ache that compels the dancer to dance, the symphony and longing for which the flowers open their bodies and for which trees twist around locks of wood to grow, the symphony of breathing, of pain, of earthquakes, of awe, of poverty and capitalism and moments of joy between mothers and children, of the reason bricks are lain against bricks the way they are and why giant cranes are erected to build inhuman pyramids for the sake of being, the the [unspeakable] … which enweaves newest new with oldest old and all of history together, it is and must be that most slightest twist of your smile and the way your fingers kiss the carpet and the way a straw presses against the sweet curvature of your mouth, “in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me, or which i cannot touch because they are too near”

I think about you every minute. I want to be with you forever. I love you with every atom in my body. I love you. I love you. I am so in love with you. I love you. I love you. I want you. I need you.

I have said these things a thousand times.

I never said these things to her.

It was unnatural. It was wrong. We had both said these things already to other people who said them to us in our separate beds, in whispered moments, every night, and we said them back, but when we said them, we thought of her, and when we did not say them back, it was because we thought of her.

It wasn’t even real, what we had. It wasn’t possible. It just felt like love, it wasn’t, we were just imagining it, we were in the wrong bodies, of the wrong people, of the wrong genders, jobs, roles, names, at the wrong time. You like boys. We both do. Duh. You can’t be in love with a woman.

I didn’t even know I was gay.

I mean, I knew. I knew it for the longest time, since I was too young to even consider the idea of what that meant or to understand what I was feeling. When I was twelve years old and attended a deeply religious school where I had a journal in which I would reflect on myself, address Gods, etch my secret dreams, and confess my sins, I wrote it once, when I was twelve, and then I crossed it out as many times as I could and blotted it out with ink and wrote three pages reflecting on how I had sinned in my error of even imagining I could think such a thing or that I was such a creature who could feel that, writing over and over “I’m sorry Lord Jesus,” I did not mean it, I never could mean it, sin and error had crept into my heart in my confusion. I blotted it out with blue pen circles and lines and scratch marks of frantic apology lest the Lord (or any other person, or especially me myself) might see it and believe it, believe what my childlike handwriting wrote, “Sometimes I think I want to kiss girls”

Another investigation of the archive of my journals, none of which I ever remember doing, reveal similarly incriminating testaments, all blotted out with ink, or, as I got older and more secretive, reasoned away in the subsequent paragraphs into the private chambers of my heart, at different episodic moments throughout The Life of Alice and the chronicles of her flickering ideas and secret dreams:

Ella Byworth for

“I think I am in love with Kaitlyn. I think I like Kaitlyn as more than a friend sometimes. Sometimes I wish I was dating her.”

“Sometimes me and Bethany almost kiss.”

“Me and Emma practiced kissing again today so we could do it better for boys. I like when we do that a lot and I hope we do it again next time at our sleepover. We just like doing it because we’re weird and we’ll do anything.”

“Me and Callie lay together and cuddled for a long time all night and we hold hands sometimes when we watch movies. A lot of the time, actually. She likes it more than I do but I like it too. She looks at me a special way like the way I look at boys and I am scared to look at her back that way but sometimes I do too when I don’t mean to or sometimes I do mean to and I hope she sees it and understands and looks at me back that way but when she does it scares me because I don’t know what’s going to happen next and I get scared of what I might do next because we might do something else and I want to and I know if I keep looking at her back we will so I just laugh and look away and then I look at her back again with a different kind of face on and tell her I’m so glad we’re friends or say something coy and impersonal and deceiving like ‘I love you, dude,’ always making sure to call her dude like we’re just bros and none of that ever happened and it disappears beneath the surface again as a fragment of a sunbeam of a moment but it lingers against the surface of every interaction between us with a gentleness for the following days, during which I intentionally withdraw or make a special effort to talk about boys and sometimes bring them home into my bedroom just to prove that nothing happened or could ever happen between us.”

The love of a woman is gentle.

But even gentle fascists are fascists nonetheless.

I think about you every minute. I want to be with you forever. I love you with every atom in my body. I love you. I love you. I am so in love with you. I love you. I love you. I want you. I need you.

There is something louder than these mutterings of lovers, something heavier, more monumental than dangerous words you drunkenly said in the heat of passion one night.

It is the silence you feel after, and all the words you didn’t.

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