On Holding Hands

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Ismael Nery, ‘Namorados’

I want to tell you: 
that this part will be simple, 
that you’ll always know what happens next, 
that the first one you let cross the threshold of your heart 
will be your only, and 
that they will tread with perfect care. 
I’d be lying, child of mine. 
The next part is 
half magic and half held breath, 
part mind reading and part closed eyes. 
It is a blind lean into a most delicious thing 
that you won’t know the shape of at all. 
Fall into uncomfortable silences. 
Sometimes they are followed by the sweetest ones. 
Don’t let fear close you off to the spaces of possibility. 
Enter the great practice of the world. 
The one I am still studying, even now. 
Move your hand an inch closer, 
feel that electric pulse of joy. 
Lift up your face to those sweet eyes, 
the ones that are always nervously catching yours, 
and find yourself in a whole new world. 
Be true, first and always to yourself. 
Don’t ever hold too tightly to this precious beast. 
Stay sweet, especially in the endings. 
I promise you, 
even when your heart comes out different 
it is just becoming the right shape 
for the one who will jump with you 
and hold on for the whole wild fall. 
Don’t rush on to the next thing: 
love is learned. 
but it is also a long book, 
and a great, big, messy pile of joy. 
Jump in.

Nicole Kelly holds a master’s degree from the Yale School of the Environment, and primarily writes poetry inspired by the natural world and her community. Her grandparents met at a CU-Boulder fraternity dance in the 1930s, and this poem was written for all the young hearts still falling in love in the shadows of these mountains.