Artwork © Eric N. Peterson

 

Half Love

He asks me,
“Do you love girls?”
And I want to place his hands,
Over the origami heart in my ribs,
And tell him,
“When you grow up with angry men in your house,
You eventually start to.”

I want to tell him,
That when in every boy you see,
Fragments of the home you wish to leave behind,
And in every word you see,
The patriarchy you want to tear off,
You eventually start to.
You eventually turn to girls,
You eventually turn to women.

When you see a girl,
When you see her,
When your hands ache to cup her face,
And tell her the stories,
Of how your body is a pyre of the words of a man,
Because she understands,
Oh, she understand so well,
For women understand hurting,
And honey,
I ache for the love of whose voice I’m not afraid of,
So I love her.

When you are an eulogy for the boys,
Whose kisses have become gravestones on your body,
And words, splinters on your skin;
You will eventually collapse into the hands of a woman,
You will eventually seek the love you wish you could give.

When you are born with a boy’s hands wrapped around your mouth,
And when all the colors your eyes have learnt to see are,
Black and red and black and red and black and red—
And then, finally nothing.
You imagine a color you have never seen,
You imagine love without the hurting,
You imagine a piece of someone’s heart,
Without them sucking out your own.
You imagine a love so raw,
That it’s faceless and nameless,
That you’d lick it off the knives that carved out both a man and a woman,
That you’d weave it through the ashes of the skin you burnt,
Just to birth a lover in a cemetery.

For when you are born amidst hatred,
You learn to love everyone the same.
You learn to shred your heart the same.

And you learn to love a man,
And a woman,
The same.

 

Srina Bose hails from a conservative family in India. She believes that the poem “Half Love” depicts not only hers, but the thoughts of many other girls—when setting out to discover their sexuality. It shows how trauma and patriarchy often shape us to have preferences that go against the general societal norms. “Half Love” depicts bisexuality as a whole, which is evident from the last stanza that states: “When you are born amidst hatred, you learn to love a man and a woman the same.”

Eric N. Peterson is from Atlanta, Ga. He’s been drawing cartoons all his life. He leans towards the absurd, imaginative, and the surreal, as that’s where all the flavor is.