The seventh form of love is sunshine..when the dawn is bright, and cold..when the frozen ground is stunned at the first touch of frost.
“The sixth form of love is a reckoning between drunken friends, after a wake…an intimate gathering at dusk, in a dirty walk-up where a great iron bridge leaps between hearts, islands with the black sea churning between, a vortex left by him who has died. And now, fortunes tied together, an affinity that was only an inkling before is galavanized by the need of hearts to love someone who has come unhinged for the same reason.
“The sixth form of love is a need for healing, a need to hold on, a not-wanting-to-let-go. It is the faintest glimmer of the future….or the fading bitterness that comes with accepting a friendship that cannot possibly replace one that was lost.
“Its inverse is nostalgia, and isolation, and rage.”
“The fifth form of love is a child reaching out, tenderly, slowly, unconsciously..for the hand of another child, fingertips floating, while talking excitedly, naming a sunlit, magical place hidden by a thicket, her heart bubbling over as she speaks.
“The fifth form of love is a treehouse, or a rave..or the speaking of made-up, secret languages. It is innocence, and sanctuary.
“Its inverse is the upsetting of a chessboard, or a trojan horse, or a spy who poses as a devout liaison.”
Sailor softly sighed.
“The fourth form of love is touch: holding a newborn baby, or cradling an old woman in death.
“And yet this example may come to pass in sickening reverse…so that we must cradle a newborn in death. Thus, this fourth form is the form of love through which we can begin, perhaps, to take the pain that is unfathomable, through which we may come to accept the deepest form of suffering.
“The highest reach of touch is erotic surrender. It is the tenderest, most flowing, most embodied form of love. It can exist in the flesh, or in the imagination. Through dreams, and visions, it can become a form of contact, even communication, across great distances in time and space.
“Touch can also encompass other forms. Touch can be prayer, or heartbreak, or play.
“Its inverse is fear, and lust. When knit together, hallucination, and terror.”
“The third form of love is music. Whether it’s the sound of a boys’ choir..like a shaft of silver light shooting into the stratosphere..or the gritty sub bass of an underground club in some secret corner of Berlin..a bass throb that shakes the ground, and ripples the mud and oil in the gutter. It’s a song that is a prayer.
“These vibrations subtly alter the body…and that subtle alteration is love.
“The third form of love is the private crush you feel while walking the city streets, surrounded by the multitudes, listening to music only you can hear.
“The inverse of this subtle form of pleasure, and the transformation it brings, is judgement, and austerity.”
By now we were nested in the dried grasses of the hollow. The wooden door still stood open, revealing the underground corridor marked by the lights glowing from their cage-like sconces. We sat facing each other. Sailor payed attention to me as the words simply flowed forth, as if from someplace outside of my body.
“The second form occurs through the body of a small child experiencing starvation, and thirst. Eyes wide, she reaches out her slender, naked arm for a drink of water. But in the moment she begins to grasp it, it is snatched away from her, so that her fingers close on air. It is not the experience of the child, but of the witness, that tells the story. It is the feeling in the pit of her stomach, a feeling more powerful than compassion, more devastating than pity.
“The inverse of the second form is poisoned perception, and jadedness, and contempt.”
“Wait,” Sailor said, putting her hand to my wrist. “What about the seven forms of love? I want to know them before we…”
But Epson was gone: notes, cricket, and all.
Inexplicably, it was then that I spoke the seven forms of love. I only knew them as I said them…as if by saying them I was learning them for the first time myself, as if I had become some sort of conduit. I could just as well have been speaking in tongues. My speech was simultaneously mysterious and crystal clear, the way the words flowed forth, as if from the ether…
“This first form,” I said matter-of-factly, “is prayer.”
“I’m not talking about piety, or even devotion. I’m talking about a feeling. Sometimes it just crashes over you, a warm, cresting wave that washes over the interior body. It’s a need to surrender to the sensation, to fall forward onto your knees. It’s a feeling of awe for the fact that you are even alive to breathe or to walk…a feeling that your being alive in that instant is only for the mercy of the universe.
“It’s the feeling of lying on the floor in the dark, with you arms open; it’s the feeling that you are so wide…and so fragile…that when all the weight of the world presses you down like beautiful, leaden blanket…you cannot do anything but cry, with tears running down the sides of your cheeks, down into the carpet.
“It’s the feeling of walking down a city street at the dawn of some accidental escapade, when light breaks onto the raindrenched asphalt and you know for an instant you’re the richest person on earth.
“That’s prayer, in fact. That moment, that wave of sensation is a prayer.
“Some say it’s self love, which is, in its highest form, love of the universe, which again is prayer.
“Its inverse, its closest relative, is addiction, and oblivion, and the absorption of one’s self into experiences, emotional rides, waves of sensation. Its inverse is suicide.”
(Inspired by the writings of Sean Lynch.)