Leaning Into

Before I know fear, I must kiss it .
Must roll with it in the gold fields of November
and wrestle his tongue with my tongue.
I must soften. Must let my tender weight
melt into fear’s big arms. Feel how he holds
every inch of me. Feel how he moves the hair
from my forehead like a lover, so he can look
into my eyes. He wants to know me. Know
everything. He does not flinch nor look away.

Before I know fear, I breathe into its mouth
and receive its breath into my own. Fear
has a beautiful smile. I never before noticed
how kind his eyes, I was so busy running
away or building walls or slamming doors to lock him out.
For hours we gaze at each other, for hours. The sun
rises and sets all around.

It is not like it happens all at once.
It is not easy to invite him in,
though he follows me home from the meadow.
Though he sits at the door I have locked
from inside, waits like a dog, falls asleep
on the stoop and the luff of his breath
enters the room and I hear him
all throughout the house.

“Okay!” I say. “Come in already.”
I am tired of trying to wait him out.

And fear enters and sits with me
in the wicker chair, though there’s
only room for one. And we drink
peppermint tea, et the sun rest on us.
We let it be quiet for a long, long time.
We curl into each other. And what seemed
so scary, so frightening, so big enters
my every cell. And together we admire
the stained glass, the horse in the painting,
the slow unfolding of the yellow mums.

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