You Cannot Tell Me by Dimitra Xidous

We’re all curious about what might hurt us.

Federico García Lorca


You cannot tell me love is a cockroach

if you haven’t seen it run across the floor


or convince me that freedom is a dove

if you haven’t seen it fly past your window.



You cannot tell me sadness is a lamb

if you haven’t seen it hanging in the slaughterhouse


or make me believe that forgiveness is a fish

if you haven’t seen it swim like a ribbon in water.



You cannot tell me what I already know.


Love turns us into insects; we’re nothing more than fragile,

crawling on the floor. Sadness hangs after slaughter.

Sadness is a lamb eaten at Easter, and the day after.


But freedom is not a dove; forgiveness, not a fish.

If it were so —

my lover would have sent me a dove,

my lover would have given me a fish.





This poem is published in Keeping Bees by Dimtra Xidous (Doire Press) available at Take Heart Pop Up Art, all proceeds to Dublin Rape Crisis Centre. Dimitra Xidous was the Featured Poet in the Spring 2014 Issue of ​The Stinging Fly and is an editor of The Pickled Body, a poetry and art magazine. She has an essay on Leonard Cohen (and being a dog, for love) in the anthology Under the Influence (ed. Joanna Walsh, Gorse editions). Originally from Ottawa, Canada, she lives in Dublin, Ireland.

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