Start with something harmless—
a stone perhaps. Choose one
large enough to sit on, one so heavy
it cannot get up and hit you of its own accord.
After that try loving a leaf—
preferably one lying nearby,
preferably a dead one. Do not taste it.
Next: something with a rudimentary
brain—an insect, or the spider on your shoe.
This is where it gets tricky. The most beautiful
are often toxic and their interest in you
is minimal. When you turn to mammals
hunger becomes an issue.
You can even open yourself
to another of your species, with a brain
and body like yours, capable of anything.
But if you are afraid, stay
with the rock. Remember though—
it will not feed you,
or speak, or answer.
* * * * * *
Kathleen Lynch's fiction and poetry has appeared in several anthologies, including The Next River Over — A Collection of Irish American Writing, and in many literary journals, including Poetry, Nimrod, Poetry Northwest, The Midwest Quarterly, Slipstream, Quarterly West, and The Midwest Review.
Lynch received the Spoon River Poetry Review Editor's Choice Award, the Salt Hill Poetry Award, a Two Rivers Review Prize, Peregrine and Sow's Ear prizes, and ten Pushcart nominations. "Love: The Basics" was published in Lynch's collection, Hinge, which won the Black Zinnias Press National Poetry Book Competition.