Alligators live in swamps.
Alligators can climb fences.
Alligators usually scavenge for food.
Alligator eyes reflect light in the dark.
Alligators like to lay in the sun.
Alligators engage in cannibalism.
Love is an emotion.
Love has many forms.
Love can be both positive and negative.
A love triangle involves three people.
Platonic friendships lead to unrequited love.
Aphrodite is the goddess of love.
Love lives in swamps.
Love can climb fences.
Love usually scavenges for food.
Love eyes reflect light in the dark.
Love likes to lay in the sun.
Love engages in cannibalism.
Alligator is an emotion.
Alligators have many forms.
Alligators can be both positive and negative.
An alligator triangle involves three people.
Platonic friendships lead to unrequited alligators.
Aphrodite is the goddess of alligators.
Love, But Actually An Alligator
Love lives out in the heat of the swamps,
drags along riverbanks, scales fences,
scavenges for food.
Love prefers moonlit waters,
knows you would rather drown yourself outright
than be pulled under unsuspecting.
Love is a cannibal, savors the soft parts—
what rots first, what floats, what stashes easily
under a rock or a log, what she can come back to later.
Love takes the eyes first as a kindness
in exchange for an eternal dark.
Love tells you—gutturally, full of teeth—
that she favors the mud at the bottom of Lake Okeechobee,
a deathroll with your favorite donut-shaped pool floaty,
the thrill of lakes unknown.
Really, Love just hates the reflection of fear.
She’d rather a surrender to the inevitable.
Love likes to lay in the sun, warm her scales.
Love is primordial: an alligator emotion, a creature of many forms.
Her favorite form is this: blood dripping, belly full,
red sun reflecting off the pink in her scales.
Love claims neutrality—negativity, positivity, an eye of the storm:
the sum of all things alligator romantic.
Love claims to understand triangles, theorems.
She can snap a human back to reality with the best of her brethren:
divide and conquer bodies.
Everyone is head, heart, groin.
At a high enough temperature, Love can be whatever you want,
whatever you were hoping for: him, her, them.
Love thinks all this unrequited business is a tragedy,
a waste of her alligator resources.
She’s busy, you know.
Aphrodite’s always got things to do.
But if you don’t mind pulling your socks off
to feel the sink of mud beneath your bare feet,
you can become her alligator, too.
Jessica Swanson (she/her) lives somewhere along Florida’s Nature Coast. She has work published or forthcoming from Moth Eaten Mag, Hearth & Coffin Literary Journal, and others. She has a fondness for cats, cheese, and fancy tea leaves. Find her on instagram at everystupidstar and X (Twitter) at cooljazsheepie.