There is an awful, delightful old tradition that women have “permission” to ask men for their hand in marriage on Leap Day, with the added impetus that if he refuses, he must give her the gift of a silk dress and a kiss to soften the blow. So, with the best of intentions, I asked one of my dearest friends to marry me today. (He is pretty great.) This is the glorious, achingly beautiful poem I received in reply, proving, I believe, that it was a win-win situation either way:
By Dean Young
Avoid adjectives of scale.
Dandelion broth instead of duck soup.
Don’t even think you’ve seen a meadow, ever.
The minor adjustments in our equations
still indicate the universe is insane,
when it laughs a silk dress comes out its mouth
but we never put it on. Put it on.
Cry often and while asleep.
If it’s raw, forge it in fire.
That’s not a mountain, that’s crumble.
If it’s fire, swallow.
The heart of a scarecrow isn’t geometrical.
That’s not a diamond, it’s salt.
That’s not the sky but it’s not your fault.
My dragon may be your neurotoxin.
Your electrocardiogram may be my fortune cookie.
Once an angel has made an annunciation,
it’s impossible to tell him he has the wrong address.
Moonlight has its own befuddlements.
The rest of us can wear the wolf mask if we want
or look like reflections wandered off.
Eventually armor, eventually sunk.
You wanted love and expected what?
A parachute? Morphine? A gold sticker star?
The moment you were born—
you have to trust others because you weren’t there.
The strongest gift I was ever given
was made of twigs.
It didn’t matter which way it broke.