(Not) Gone away from me

I sometimes wonder if I even know what it is to love.
I think back to my childhood loves....the crooked smile, eyes shining when we caught sight of one another....
the familiarity and feeling of home,
the absent-minded awareness of his habits, like biting the skin around his nails...
the vise around my chest when separated too long,
that feeling of having my breath sucked and knocked out of me,
as I gulped his scent all the same.

I am moved by my memories
at times,
I stand frozen, folding my laundry,
when the image of his crooked smile & shining eyes hit me,
as if I just looked up and saw him standing there,
as before,
whispering hoarsely,

I think that I surely cannot know love,
if it is now gone.

I look for it elsewhere...
I catch sight of it's fluttering
in the wink of a man
in the gentle squeeze of his hand...
in the simple act of allowing me to rub my feet against his,
in his voice in my ear
in the words he sings
when all his armor is protecting all of his

I find it on the edge of his dimples,
hiding there,
in his words,
in my forgetting,
when I squeeze my eyes tight & try to will it away,
with all the tears I wish to wash it away,
It shows it's face in his,
eyes wide & innocent, though surely not-
playful & prodding,
grazing the hardest parts of me,
"Yes, I am still here!",
Even when I refuse to seek it out.

I hear it as I lie in this hammock alone,
This bitter and silly and insanely insistent thing that will not die at the root,
despite the leaves falling to the floor
despite the drought
despite the branches being pulled & pushed & torn
from the winds of lies & life....

I chase it,
And it chases me.
I cannot win for losing
The best part of me.
I don't want to see it,
But I hold my breath as I seek it out,
Through the ache it caused me.