"Love Has Rules" by Francine Witte

Love Has Rules

And you can’t change ‘em. I told this to Harley again and again.

Been this way forever, I’d say. He’d ignore me, but still I tried.

I’d sit him in his favorite chair, all fluffed-up pillows and doilies where the fabric quit.

I’d say, Harley you gotta start bringing me flowers. Daisies are my favorite. And you can pick ‘em right out back.

He’d start shiftin’ his shifty feet, big chunky boots just waitin’ to walk him back to Loretta.

Who I knew all about, and the spell she cast on him. With her flingy hair, her hands as quick as bluebirds. Harley once told me that the first rule of love was to obey your heart and that’s what led him to Loretta.

Well, I gave him that, but if he also wanted me, he was gonna have to act sorry. And sorry meant flowers.

So I’d ask him on those after-Loretta mornings when he had snuck up into the room pretendin’ he’d been sleeping there all night. I’d say Harley, where the hell are my flowers. He’d just grunt and say, they are busy out back, and that they needed time to grow.

Right then I’d remind him that the rules of love say that time has no meaning. How it seems too long when you’re not with the one you want.

And that’s when he got up to leave me for the very last time.

Days later, at his funeral, I strew his casket with daisies. Nice, big plump ones they sent from the store. I squeezed out a tear but no one believed it. Not Loretta, who is still angry about the stabbing, not the policeman in the corner waiting to take me back to jail, and certainly not the newspaper guy, who named me Crazy Daisy and shook his head when I said I was obeyin the rules of love, and when it’s clear that a love thing is over, you are entitled to a little closure.