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Letter from the Editor

Love Lessons

A poem on grammar, semantics, and love

Photo: Collin Wang

In English class, the teacher explains that everything

you need to know about grammar

can be learned with the word love

Love, actually, is a feeling

and can describe action and show action and act and be acted upon

and thus can take the form 

of just about any part of speech

at once, colliding in endless syntactic possibility,

a semantic wonder of the English language.

In lesson one, you learn that love is a noun 

which means

it can be both the subject and object of a sentence—

you can send love and take love and

let love take you;

you can grow it in gardens and package it 

in heart–shaped boxes to be sold in grocery store aisles.

Lesson two covers the verb to love, which can be conjugated

based on the subject of the sentence—

you love and they love and he loves and she loves and we love and I love and

later, the analogy lesson will explain

that love can really be any verb, a definition of referents—

to love is to collide is to grasp is to

to love is to hope is to worry is

to love is to dance is to struggle is to

to love is to carry is to open is to

to love is to exist.

In the lesson on adjectives, the teacher explains that

love can describe anything—

love songs and love letters and love poems, too, 

but also that the empty street is love and your warm bed is love 

and that sensation of being surrounded by people and laughter is

love is love is love is love, love, loving love.

Your favorite lesson covers figurative language—

you learn to grow love on vines and call it a metaphor, 

and are instructed in the similes of loving 

like glue like sugar like rain like gardens

like guitar strings like lampshades like anything.

Next is the lesson on imperatives—

you’re taught to love well

and love often and love carefully and love unapologetically

and love with every part of yourself.

You learn that love can be

a prepositional phrase and a portmanteau and an interjection—

with love and lovesick and I love you! shouted into the void

in one hundred different tones to convey 

a hundred different things.

And the final lesson is that run–on sentences are okay

as long as they convey stylistic meaning,

and, in fact, these lessons on love, actually, 

have just been run–on sentences themselves,

and when all of the lessons are over, 

when you think you’ve learned love 

in its every turn of phrase

and grasp every facet of its definition, 

the teacher stops writing on the chalkboard

and the whole class holds its breath 

and you wonder if any of this has had any meaning at all

and you wonder if you’ve just been obscuring love in grammar 

and semantics to hide that

love, actually,

has no definition at all

and our hearts beat

and our muscles tense

and we realize that this discomfort, this tension, this constant questioning,

might just be love, actually,

and we exhale.


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