Published on Academy of American Poets (

Like an Auto-Tune of Authentic Love

I’m watching an old movie in one corner
of my laptop and in another the shadows
nesting in your neck, the flickering frequencies
of your sweater, and remember the Jack Nicholson
tagline in that movie we almost watched then decided
against fearing the little taser of misogyny:
You make me want to be a better person. Sometimes
the only thing I want is to say marry me
even though we both think marriage is archaic and weird
or at least for us. It’s not marry me I want to say
but rather weld with me like a net we also sit in.
Oh FaceTime face and shadow neck and the almost synced
sound of our shared watching. You have a list of things
that are going to be the death of you,
and so do I, which we cover in our debriefings.
All of this is to say that distance makes my heart go farther
into the terrain of heartfelt and I love it: how ordinarily
classifiable it is like feeling literal figurative butterflies
in your stomach. The good being fundamental.
Surprising love can happen at any part of one’s life
like the pixels deciding when to flicker into bursts.


Copyright © 2020 by Carmen Giménez Smith. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 30, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“This poem is about how a long-distance relationship feels and works, often through screens. It’s also about queer love, late-in-life love, distance-love, and new love. The screen synthesizes our experiences of the beloved’s face and one’s yearning for it. I hope that came through too.”
Carmen Giménez Smith


Carmen Giménez Smith

Carmen Giménez Smith is the author of Be Recorder (Graywolf Press, 2019). She directs the MFA program at Virginia Tech and works for Noemi Press.

Date Published: 2020-09-30

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