Words You Can’t Always Say

I love you or Fire.
Oh, but that Fire rule applies only to public buildings.
Some of the people I love the most will never hear
those words: not Fire, silly, I love you.

They create discomfort as often as they
bring comfort; repel as often as they
heal. No matter how sincere the telling,
the risk remains real, rejection possible.

Love is not on loan. Once given,
love cannot be taken back; it is
like oxygen. Once breathed in,
it will not return pure.

There is something similar about
vocalizing I love you and Fire.
If you say either but don’t mean it,
consequences exist.

For Fire, the consequence may mean
a stampede or worse, a fine or certain inconveniences,
even jail time. For I love you, the unwanted exit
a damnation like Dante envisioned, buffeted around on clouds alone.

No, it remains quite preferable
to remain silent. I will hold
my tongue not because I do not
love you, but because I do.