Corey Van Landingham

Love: A Chronicle

Because there had to be one woman who first loved a man. Let’s call her X.

Because X started it.

Because I can’t imagine her face.

Because I’ve been ghost-riding love since the beginning. Saying go, then sitting outside of it.

Because choking ourselves in the elementary school bathroom until we fainted got me
            hooked on the wrong kind of love.

Because X visits me at night. Is disappointed.

Because X never had a man’s hand around her throat and was supposed to like it.

Because the town I was born in opened its doors wide at night for some mountain air. We
            woke up with deer in our kitchens, which made me think no one could hurt me.

Because I’ve been loved as many ways as I’ve been fucked, and I’m not sure I cared for any
            of it.

Because Stevie sang it: rulers make bad lovers.

Because I like watching others do unto each other what I don’t want to do.

Because X was most likely beautiful. Because that somehow matters.

Because, on a promised ride home, the car stalled outside of town while three men collapsed
            on top of me, the smallest one speaking for the first time that night: I could love you.

Because it’s a lonely place, always-leaving.

Because agape was different than eros, and the soul has always been pushed above the body,
            and X must have believed in ideal forms.

Because, like all women of myth, X is my mother.

Because our sun rose from the ashes of other stars. Because she never told me.

Corey Van Landingham is the author of Antidote, winner of the 2012 Ohio State University Press/The Journal Award in Poetry. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, her poems have appeared in The Best American Poetry 2014, Boston Review, Kenyon Review, The Southern Review, and elsewhere. She is currently a doctoral candidate in Creative Writing at the University of Cincinnati.


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