The Square Root of Love

by Sergio Ortiz

If I’m told
you’re on the other side
of a bridge,
strange as it may seem,
please, tell me,
what is the bridge that separates
your life from mine?

In what black hour, what rainy city,
what world without light, is that bridge
and I will cross it.

No matter the goal or the course,
or the sun, which was light and whip
of that day’s journey.
No matter the sweat, the thirst,
the clumsy tired steps.
The round trip.

Even the landscape is not important,
nor the orange earth, the green of alpines,
the turquoise sea, the gray stones
of borders and millennial defenses.

When I go to love
I have poppies on my lips
and a spark of fire in my gaze.
I wire and garner red roses.
Red, the mirror of my darkened bedroom.

When I return from love, withered,
rejected, guilty, or simply absurd,
I arrive pale, and very cold.
Pupils rolled over the top of my eyes,
white blood cells in the clouds,
a skeleton and its defeat.

But I keep coming back.

SERGIO A. ORTIZ is a gay Puerto Rican poet and the founding editor of Undertow Tanka Review. He is a two time Pushcart nominee, a four time Best of the Web nominee, and a 2016 Best of the Net nominee. His poems have been published in hundreds of journals and anthologies. He is currently working on his first full-length collection of poems, Elephant Graveyard.

Photo: “Bridge” by Sam Hansen