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I love you most like this.

Betsy Ladyzhets, Ella Bartlett

May 4

Piece by Betsy Ladyzhets. Image by Ella Bartlett.


I love you most like this:

soft and warm and bathed in sunlight, pliable in my arms like clay or water or ink, a guardian of the morning drawing me ever closer letting me embrace your warmth and paint you golden violet blue trace your cheekbones your neck your chest until you open before me like a rose in spring and –

no, I love you most like this:

blinking slowly blinking lazily laughing at me like a cat landing on its feet flipping me over onto my back watching me stretch watching me watch you leaning down to devour me whole lips and arteries legs and neurons thoughts turning turning yearning for eternity yearning for a world built just for us and –

no, I love you most like this:

linked easily by fingers voices twining together twining easily wandering about the city streets and marveling at the people moving fast the buildings staying still the flowers aching to fly the colors splashed across a canvas for us to move through, always so much brighter with you beside me so much lovelier so much grander so much more and –

no, I love you most like this:

sitting in the back of the dark movie theater laughing at the screen your head pillowed on my shoulder my head pillowed on your lap a mess of soft and comfortable popcorn long finished plot irrelevant lucky that the theater is empty because anyone sitting near us would surely be so jealous of the private jokes they could never understand and –

no, I love you most like this:

yourself with me yourself beside me yourself before me your legs longer in dresses your smile brighter with lipstick your fingers nimbler painted purple a hundred dressing rooms hotel rooms sidewalks where you shed your hard outer shell and I pull you close and whisper over and over that you are beautiful wish over and over that the world could see you as I see you wish over and over that I could keep you just as you are right now and –

no, I love you most like this:

pulling me closest just before I have to leave telling me you love me desperate that I know before I forget quite how your voice harmonizes with mine running your fingers down my back etching me until I am blazed into your retinas like a seal until you are sealed into my heart like an artery until my arteries are constricting like a promise and you always feel furthest away the moment after I close my eyes and –

no, I love you most like this:

a desperate memory as I stare up at my ceiling late at night counting the days until our next too-short meeting starved for a warm body in my bed a quiet voice in my ear steady arms around my waist imagining futures with apartments and flowerpots and two toothbrushes on the bathroom sink until all I can do is open my phone and send you words I know you won’t read until morning words that I write with every ounce of stardust in my body and –

no, I love you most like this:

a character in my stories an audience to my poems a voice in my head whispering whispering writing yourelf over and over in prose in verse in constellation rhyme asking do you use me only for inspiration when you know the answer and i wonder if i dreamed myself a lover who could hold me with the shape of their sentences yet never quite pierce my iambic pentameter enough to break and –

no, I love you most like this

bathed in starlight bathed in sunlight bathed in thought,

I love you most like this

drawing closer pulling further circling hyperbolic intersecting intersecting,

I love you most like

raindrops teardrops snowdrops sunflowers painting the sky gold violet blue,

I love you most

in dreams of a world built just for us dreams of the world we will build.

I love you most.