The Way He Says I Love You

Poetry by Lily Burke

Photo by Felipe Galvan on Unsplash

The first boy who told me he loved me didn’t understand what the word meant.
He told me late at night over the phone.
I said it back.
We haven’t spoken since.
It’s been four years and sometimes I can hear the words.
Ones that slipped out of his lips
As I slipped out of his hands.

The second boy who told me he loved me whispered it in my ear.
Our friends sitting only a few feet away,
Not knowing what he had said to me.
My friends sometimes still ask about him.

The third boy who told me he loved me said it as a pick up line.
Because “I love you” is suddenly a picked up line.
It was enough though.
I answered his texts and calls
until I heard him saying it to another girl.

The fourth boy who told me he loved me said it in a text message
ily
I was naive and said it back
Thinking that’s what love was
Something so simple, so easy.
I haven’t texted that boy in a year.
His number deleted from my phone but not from my memory.

The fifth boy who told me he loved me shouted it out at a party for our whole grade to hear.
The air smelled of alcohol joined the words that left his lips.
I smiled and said it back
I don’t go to parties anymore but he still does.

The sixth boy who told me loved me hasn’t said it yet.
Not in the way the other five before him have.
Boy number six says it in a different way.
He says ‘I love you’ in the way he holds the door open for me when I enter a room
The way he says ‘I love you’ in how he memorized my drink order at Starbucks.
He doesn’t say ‘I love you’ the way most boys do.
He learned to say ‘I love you’ the way he learned all my favorite books.
This boy doesn’t say ’I love you’ the way he most boys do.
He says it in the way he holds my hand when I’m scared.
In the way he knows when I need help and when I don’t and not to cross the line.
He says ‘I love you’ when he texts me good morning and good night
It’s said in the memorizing all of the little things
It’s said in the way he loves my family

He doesn’t say ‘I love you’ the way most boys do.
He doesn’t need too.
But when he does say ‘I love you’ his eyes always say it before his lips do.
His hands say ‘I love you’ before they form on his tongue.
He always says it first.
This boy will be the last boy I ever love and he doesn’t say I love you’.

About Lily Burke 207 Articles

Lily Burke is a sophomore at Clayton A.Bouton High School. Her poetry has appeared frequently in the magazine.