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They asked us to prove our love
with money,
with relinquished privacy,
with the history of romance
empiricized into pages
of letters and phone bills
and flights and holidays,
with rehearsed answers
following a formula
to researched, leaked questions

they want us to pay
for other people’s deception,
those who give love like ours
a bad name, and bear
the burden of proof
in the wake of many
who had lied
for a piece of paradise

we are the case in point,
an example
to show the world
they have learned their lesson
—still learning—

and since I really love you,
I don’t mind

but I can see each step
to happily ever after
taking its toll on you,
your devotion buckling
under the weight of what
they have all along
designed to break us,
it’s wearing down your heart:
I feel it, it shifts
within the ambiguity of
your voice when you tell me
you love me: I hear it,
it is crowding us, all these
fees and paperwork
and deadlines pushing us
to suffocating corners
where the words
we direct at each other
ricochet off the wall
and sound a little bit
less sure,
and all our happy memories
left unguarded on the table
with all the stakes,
and in the debris of our reasons
you hold me

so tightly that
I start to miss you…

“City Love” by photographer JJ Jackson


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