What I Should Have Told You

*

Where I am from,

we do not say I love you

as a phone phrase meaning See you later.

We do not toss it around like a baseball

or cover it with fingerprints.

This is how we say it

when we are brave enough.

*

Ich hab dich lieb

means I hold out love

like a plum cake,

like a gift with satin ribbons,

hold it close like a teddy bear at night.

*

Ich bin verliebt

means I am lost in love

like a girl in her own reflection,

tangled in it like a comb in curly hair,

wrapped in it like a cloud of fresh perfume.

*

Ich liebe dich

means I am running in the rain,

my sneakers soaked, to see you.

It means I wake up with damp sheets

and your smile scorching my eyes.

It means I am an open book

whose pages you can tear out if you want to.

It means I locked you in my heart

and threw away the key.

*

I had all three to give you

once.