1. in eleventh grade, our teacher told us disney was fucked up. she showed us some video where all these little girls said they felt bad for belle, but if she had listened to beast, she would be okay. she should let him hit her so they would be okay. so they could get married. but then all i could think of was how i remembered ariel gave up her fins and her voice for some boy. and all i could think of was how fucked up it was i would give my legs up for you, too, like i was used to strapping them to your thighs. that i learned not to speak, but move and wail. and that’s what love was.
2. meeting you was kind of like meeting that part of myself i had forgotten. like i’d dropped you when i was walking to class one day. then i came back to you, through the arbor of the rain, soaking wet and on my knees, begging, my hair and eyes a collection of weakness and water. and you were a new kind of jesus, complete with blue jeans and a crooked smile, nailed to the bed, your halo a pillow kissing your neck and shoulders. you said hail mary, which was kind of funny, and i hailed mary. i did.
3. but when i had sex with you for the first time, you reminded me of all those old religion classes i had when i was in elementary school, and how the teacher always told us if you touched yourself, you were sinning. then i remembered myself, sitting there, thinking of the irony: you are finding another part of yourself in love, they said. in marriage. but you can’t touch yourself, or you are wicked. hell bound. fucked, they said. and oh, i was fucked.
4. but then as time went on, you reminded me of all those times in psychology where our teacher told us kids knew not to touch a burning stove after it’s burned them the first time. i learned. i did. but i didn’t learn not to touch you. i learned to love the burn, the smolder of my skin against yours. i guess i was a dumb kid.
5. i remember reading the greeks believed you found another part of yourself in love, too. the gods split humans in two so they would have to spend their entire lives finding that other part of themselves. when the gods let you find your other half you were blessed. but all i could think of was how these were the same gods who hid fire from the people, and the titan prometheus had to steal fire for their next winter. he ended up chained to some rock on some mountain, where a bird would eat his liver for the rest of his immortal life. but the humans still had their fire.
6. when i told you there was a chance i didn’t like you anymore, you called me wicked. you are a wicked, wicked woman, you said. you are a slut, a whore. i hate you. but where did that love go? i thought. did it die in your lungs like you had died between my thighs? when i watched your eyes disappear under the smog of weed? when your eyelids died into sleep next to me- almost like all those times i used to sleep next to my mother when i thought i heard the boogie man tapping on my closet door? only coming to stare at me and hurt me when i closed my eyes? except you were the boogie man, i thought: a collection of jesus and sin and beasts twisted in the sheets.
7. but i did understand. i understand love, i said. i watched disney movies too, and i knew when you didn’t love someone you might as well be dead. you might as well give up your legs, your voice and your body, i said. and then i remembered those whispers in the locker room, those bibles under our desks, and i understood i was a slut, too. and i know these things. this was important. important. i know these things, i said. i am in love. i am in love with your burn, your smolder, your inner beast, your jesus-like blue jeans and holy bed. and i am in love, i said.