To the Friend Who Is Crying on the Phone

For Muriel

Once, a man I thought I
loved assumed love was a thing bound
to the future, an obligation that lay
ahead rather than the rarest swelling now

& he said when I think of the future
I have to admit there is not future
& while I’m sure he meant to say “no
future” the not made his statement Boolean,

the future as true or false rather than less possible
& more possible, & that is also the difference
between time & space, god & the devil, matter
& antimatter, heaven & the counterpart

to heaven, all of them theories
of love. In pitch dark it comes: faith
is a feeling rooted in hopelessness. & so I refuse
a world cut into brutal black

& white halves when all god
has ever been is a field imagining
itself, an infinite grey coast forming
morning color; how a woman left

for dead will fist a root from the bank
& pull herself out of the river;
like the baby born in a bomb
shelter between nations; or the elder

remembering the original names of time;
like a scorpion overcoming his
nature to cross the water on faith alone—
this too is love:

The crane that surrenders to winter’s last
light. To accept the not future
as another kind of now, and hold in
the tide that tosses & swells & swells

& swells yearning to reach the edge
of a cliffside that was once a low coast
at the beginning of the world; the letting go
is easier when even the sea must dream its mirror;

& when time starts over, the future will be behind us but
love, like god, will still be here





Copyright © 2023 by Vanessa Angélica Villarreal. This poem originally appeared in The American Poetry Review, December 2022/January 2023. Used with the permission of the author.