← Issue 10

A list of questions to measure love

by Katrina Dybzynska


I know you wash the clothes not by the color
but by the type of fabric.

You measure time not in years,
or past birthdays, but by the planting seasons,

even if we have no land. I know you
can share one tiny strawberry (that happened during the first drought).

You don’t show when you’re upset
but your sentences become shorter then.

You never leave the house, even just to go to the yard,
without a kiss, as you learnt to anticipate goodbyes.

You’re careful with your dreams not to become too heavy
like those who have lived on the road for too long.

I know that you aren’t the first one to say
I love you, and that love is a decision for you.

But that’s not what the immigration officer wants to know.
She asks for proof of our relationship:

a joint account statement (we stopped checking it
a long time ago, we just know we need to be careful),

and she tests me on the knowledge of your favorite color
(you probably said blue, so you don’t need to explain

about the sea, merging grey of an ancient wisdom
with bloody orange of the new day, and the darkness lurking
underneath the opalescent surface).


I want to tell her not about the supermarket we shop in
but about the plants you seeded, and those you are the most eager

for to bear fruits. (The ones in the most difficult places
because you believe that the roots will heal the soil,

and sometimes you inspect berries twice the same hour,
knowing perfectly well they don’t grow that fast.)

She questions the size of our bed but not the quality of your sleep.
(You drowse, making sure our bodies keep touching,

so you know I’m still there.) She checks what is your eyes
color but she won’t ask how they change

when you are happy. (They lit like the opalescent sea,
till we forget about what’s waiting underneath the surface.)


Katrina Dybzynska is an internationally awarded writer published in Ireland, the UK, the US, Australia, Germany, and Poland.

Currently, she is working on a book that explores power, resistance, and compliance dynamics. Polish Non-Fiction Institute graduate and BA-MA Researcher for Global Center for Advanced Studies. Her main focus is climate justice, migration, and overpopulation. She is passionate about the narratives of uncivilization, indigenous cosmologies, and decolonization.