Let me kiss your knees, Helen of Troy

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Beloved,

To tear myself away from you, or anything to do with you is nothing short of sinning. Your voice like a single melting marshmallow, like warm custard on the sides of a saucepan: soft, sweet, a mouth hug. Only I know how it is to love you and not have you. Challenge me with this. Show me one other human being subjected to the same penury.

You are home and I know how I waited for this. How I wanted you to come back so that you would be where I recognised you; in a place that is not mine, not ours, and yet, familiar. Now you are here and you are still very, very far away. My heart tugs and pulls. There is a shrew inside me, untamed, and she asks for awful things. She asks for your time. She asks for your love. She asks for your body, your heat, your lovemaking. She asks for your affection, your palpable desire. She asks for things that are altogether too real. The battle is real, Helen, and it is always war time when someone takes your name. I am in love with an imaginary woman. I am in love with someone who not mine. I am in love with a terrible, impossible beauty. This is the nature of you. This is why poets write still, why men died by the thousands, why Penelope held Odysseus closer to her breast even when twenty years separated them. You.

My days are spent inside an adult-sized amniotic sac. You are there, you cover me, you feed me, you keep me alive – but I do not live. I cannot take you inside me. I cannot pull you into my arms. And each time I reach for your face, your beauty scalds my hands. But I would kiss you even if you were a volcano. I would kiss your knees and take blisters home on my lips. Anything for you, anything. I am ugly but my passion is immaculate. I desire you in a way that makes the gods jealous. It terrifies me. Love does not give you courage. Try loving a woman who can never be yours. Tell me how bold it makes you.

I would have gladly been your Prometheus had I only understood what it was I had stolen. The fire that is your body? The flame of your hair? The embers that gleam from the edges of your smile? All that and more? I stole heat. I stole warmth and I would do it again, except, they will not call it stealing, this time, Helen. Show me a man who takes what is his and is called a thief.

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