Love is a thing we learn young

To love is to care
To be gentle
To discipline

The holy books say when you love someone, a gentle tap is all you need for them to love you back

Tap
Tap
Tap

Your father taps you lightly on the shoulder
With his belt
A tap on the shoulder
A tap on the legs
A tap on the back
So you bleed: gentle blood

Your lover kisses you gently on the chest
With her foot
A kiss on the chest
A kiss on the face
A kiss on the head
And you bleed: gentle blood

Don’t move, show me some respect, says your stranger
And gently, lightly, packs away your dignity
Gentle blood

And your friend too
I won’t hurt you, I love you, he says
A tap on your skin
A tap in your skin
And you bleed: gentle blood

Please stop loving me, you say. (I don’t deserve this.)

Now, simmering in your red spacesuit, you are ready to love, too. Tap. Tap. Tap. Gentle blood.