The Conservation Candidate’s Speechwriter Tosses Another Draft of His Valentine into the Trash

by Alyson Mosquera Dutemple

In trying to date the inception of our love, I have decided that I have belonged to you since roughly the year palm oil started cropping up in every ingredient list of our purchases, and, yes, since the year we started reading ingredient lists together in stores while we shopped for our new apartment, and, yes, since we started thinking about the composition of the vessels we brought into our lives, those tubs of lotions and creams and food and other sources of sustenance. I have belonged to you since the year we realized together that the purchase and the owning of things were choices, since we started reminding ourselves that we vote with our dollars, with our time, with our commitment to things we care about. Which means I have voted for you, for us, for many years now (pause for applause). As I write this, it’s another February day in the city, but this time the trees, the flowers, don’t seem to know it. They are bursting, they are singing themselves into fragrance, into far too early a bloom while here I am in the open window, in the unseasonable heat, still hung up on the plastic sleeve this card came in. Should I have even purchased it for you? How can you measure a love planted somewhere finite? Another way to look at it: I have loved you since before all the analogies about this world started to be about the Titanic, about sitting on the deck and watching it all go down together. I still have work to do, we still have work to do, but some days I just want to tell you that I’m saving you a seat. That if we do happen to sink, I still want you beside me. I know this is a day about reds and pinks but these flowers, these flowers, are making me feel a little blue. They have been making me feel a little blue, but also, there is this: I love you, I love you. I love you still (applause).

Alyson Mosquera Dutemple‘s work has appeared in Colorado Review, Alaska Quarterly Review,
Salamander, and Cincinnati Review‘s miCRo series, among others. She is a 2023 Adroit Fiction Mentor and a 2022 runner-up for the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. She teaches and edits in New Jersey and holds an MFA from the Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. Find her @swellspoken and at