I want a soul mate who can sit me down,
shut me up, tell me ten things I don’t already know, and make me laugh.
I don’t care what you look like, just turn me on.
And if you can do that, I will follow you on bloody stumps through the snow.
I will nibble your mukluks with my own teeth.
I will do your windows.
I will care about your feelings.
Just have something in there.
(you have been visited by the love owl.
A special person will come into your life soon.)
i carry your heart with me(i carry it inmy heart)i am never without it(anywherei go you go,my dear;and whatever is doneby only me is your doing,my darling)i fearno fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i wantno world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meantand whatever a sun will always sing is youhere is the deepest secret nobody knows(here is the root of the root and the bud of the budand the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which growshigher than soul can hope or mind can hide)and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars aparti carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
–E. E. Cummings
[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]
And he answered saying:You were born together,and together you shall be forevermore.You shall be together whenwhite wings of death scatter your days.Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.But let there be spaces in your togetherness,And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.Love one another but make not a bond of love:Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.Sing and dance together and be joyous,but let each one of you be alone,Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.And stand together, yet not too near together:For the pillars of the temple stand apart,And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.
–Kahlil GibranThe Prophet
Of all the agonies of life, that which is most poignant and harrowing – that which for the time annihilates reason, and leaves our whole organization one lacerated, mangled heart – is the conviction that we have been deceived where we placed all the trust of love.
The weight of the world
Under the burden
under the burden
the weight we carry
Who can deny?
looks out of the heart
burning with purity-
for the burden of life
but we carry the weight
and so must rest
in the arms of love
must rest in the arms
be mad or chill
obsessed with angels
the final wish
—cannot be bitter,
the weight is too heavy
for no return
in all the excellence
of its excess.
The warm bodies
in the darkness,
the hand moves
to the center
of the flesh,
the skin trembles
and the soul comes
joyful to the eye—
I always wanted,
I always wanted,
to the body
where I was born.
My memory loves you; it asks about you all the time.
top: Rosalind Solomon, Birds
bottom: Letter written by Emma Hauck to her husband while in a psychiatric hospital. The words ‘sweetheart come’ (Herzensschatzi komm), are written over and over filling the surface of the paper.
The Art of Disappearing
When they say
Don’t I know you?
When they invite you to the party
remember what parties are like
Someone telling you in a loud voice
they once wrote a poem.
Greasy sausage balls on a paper plate.
If they say We should get together
It’s not that you don’t love them anymore.
You’re trying to remember something
too important to forget.
Trees. The monastery bell at twilight.
Tell them you have a new project.
It will never be finished.
When someone recognizes you in a grocery store
nod briefly and become a cabbage.
When someone you haven’t seen in ten years
appears at the door,
don’t start singing him all your new songs.
You will never catch up.
Walk around feeling like a leaf.
Know you could tumble any second.
Then decide what to do with your time.
~ Naomi Shihab Nye ~
The poem creates a loving order. I foresee a sun-man and a moon-woman, he free of his power, she of her slavery, and implacable loves streaking through black space. Everything must yield to those incandescent eagles.Song dawns on the turrets of your mind. Poetic justice burns fields of shame: there is no room for nostalgia, for the I, for proper nouns.Every poem is fulfilled at the poet's expense.
–Octavio PazToward the Poem(STARTING-POINTS)excerpt
–Ernest HemingwayWe would be together and have our books and at night be warm in bed together with the windows open and the stars bright.
A Moveable Feast
Surely, one must be either undiscerning, or frightened, to love only one person, when the world is so full of gracious and noble spirits.
–Edna St. Vincent Millay
let’s live suddenly without thinking under honest trees, a stream does.the brain of cleverly-crinkling -water pursues the angry dream of the shore. By midnight, a moon scratches the skin of the organised hills an edged nothing begins to prune let’s live like the light that kills and let’s as silence, because Whirl’s after all: (after me)love,and after you. I occasionally feel vague how vague idon’t know tenuous Now- spears and The Then-arrows making do our mouths something red,something tall –E. E. Cummings
I hadn’t told them about you, but they saw you bathing in my eyes.
I hadn’t told them about you, but they saw you in my written words.
The perfume of love cannot be concealed.
I want to write different words for you
To invent a language for you alone
To fit the size of your body
And the size of my love.
I want to travel away from the dictionary
And to leave my lips
I am tired of my mouth
I want a different one
Which can change
Into a cherry tree or a match box,
A mouth from which words can emerge
Like nymphs from the sea,
Like white chicks jumping from the magician’s hat.
–Nizar Qabbani (1923-1998)
Bassam K. Frangieh and Clementina R. Brown translation
…and when one of them meets the other half, the actual half of himself… the pair are lost in an amazement of love and friendship and intimacy and one will not be out of the other’s sight, as I may say, even for a moment…
from the Synposium
After we had loved each other intently,we heard notes tumble together,in late winter, and we heard icefalling from the ends of twigs.The notes abandon so much as they move.They are the food not eaten, the comfortnot taken, the lies not spoken.The music is my attention to you.And when the music came again,late in the day, I saw tears in your eyes.I saw you turn your face awaySo that others would not see.When men and women come together,how much they have to abandon. Wrensmake their nests of fancy threadsand string ends, animalsabandon all their money each year.What is it that men and women leave?Harder than wren's doing, they haveto abandon their longing for the perfect.The inner nest not made by instinctwill never be quite round,and each has to enter the nestmade by the other imperfect bird.–Robert Bly
listening to the Koln concert
Goodnight and great love to you. We see the same stars.
i miss you
In a crease of the hillunder the light,out of the wind,as warmth, bloom, and songreturn, lady, I think of you,and myself with you.What are we but formsof self-acknowledginglight that brings uswarmth and song from timeto time? Lip and flower,hand and leaf, tongueand song, what are we but welcomersof that ancient joy, alwayscoming, always passing?Mayapples risingout of old time, leavesfolded down aroundthe stems, as if for flight,flower bud folded inunfolding leaves, whatare we but hostsof times, of allthe Sabbath morning shows,the light that finds it good.–Wendell Berry
What can I do with this memory?—Anne Sexton
Shake the bones out of it?
from “Waking Alone
I speak to you as a friend speaks
or a true lover
not out of friendship nor love
but for a clear meeting
of self upon self.
Those hours given over to basking in the glow of an imagined
future, of being carried away in streams of promise by a love or
a passion so strong that one felt altered forever and convinced
that even the smallest particle of the surrounding world was
charged with purpose of impossible grandeur; ah, yes, and
one would look up into the trees and be thrilled by the wind-
loosened river of pale, gold foliage cascading down and by the
high, melodious singing of countless birds; those moments, so
many and so long ago, still come back, but briefly, like fireflies
in the perfumed heat of summer night.
Almost Invisible: Poems
.Find that flame, that existence,
That wonderful woman
Who can burn beneath the water.
No other kind of light
Will cook the food you
–Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
This is the non-existent animal.Not knowing that, they loved it, loved its ways,its neck, its posture, loved its quiet gazedown to the light within it, loved it all.
True, it was not. But, because loved, a purebeast came to be. A space was kept, conceded.And in that space, left blank for it, secure,it gently raised its head and hardly needed
to be. They fed it on no kind of corn,but always only with the right to be.And on the beast such power this could confer,
its brow put forth new growth. A single horn.White, it sought out a virgin's company -and was inside the mirror and in her.
–Rainer Maria Rilke
The Duino Elegies, excerpt
Should we be grateful for the protection that guards us from the strangeness of one another? And for the freedom it makes possible?
How would it be if we confronted each other unprotected by the double refraction represented by the interpreted body?
If, because nothing separating and adulterating stood between us, we tumbled into each other?
There are no events but thoughts and the heart’s hard turning, the heart’s slow learning where to love and whom.
Holy the Firm
silently if,out of not knowable
night's utmost nothing,wanders a little guess
(only which is this world)more my life does
not leap than with the mystery your smile
sings or if(spiralling as luminousthey climb oblivion)voices who are dreams,less into heaven certainly earth swimsthan each my deeper death becomes your kisslosing through you what seemed myself,i findselves unimaginably mine;beyondsorrow's own joys and hoping's very fears
yours is the light by which my spirit's born:yours is the darkness of my soul's return
-you are my sun,my moon,and all my stars–E. E. Cummings
Before the fall rains come,Let’s have one more picnic,Now that the leaves are turning colorAnd the grass is still green in places.Bread, cheese and some black grapesOught to be enough,And a bottle of red wine to toast the crowsPuzzled to find us sitting here.If it gets cold—and it will—I’ll hold you close.Night will come early.We’ll watch the sky, hoping for a full moonTo light our way home.And if there isn’t one, we’ll put all our trustIn your book of matchesAnd my sense of directionAs we grope our way in the dark.–Charles Simic
Things I Want Decided
Which shouldn't exist
in this world,
the one who forgets
or the one
who is forgotten?
Which is better,
one who has died
or not to see
each other when you are alive?
Which is better,
the distant lover
you long for
or the one you see daily
Which is the least unreliable
among fickle things -
the swift rapids,
a flowing river,
or this human world?
translated by Jane Hirshfield
The Ink Dark Moon
my love is building a buildingaround you,a frail slipperyhouse,a strong fragile house(beginning at the singular beginningof your smile)a skilful uncouthprison,a precise clumsyprison(building thatandthis into Thus,Around the reckless magic of your mouth)my love is building a magic,a discretetower of magic and(as i guess)when Farmer Death(whom fairies hate)shallcrumble the mouth-flower fleetHe’ll not my tower,laborious, casualwhere the surrounded smilehangsbreathless
–E. E. Cummings
You who never arrivedin my arms, Beloved, who were lostfrom the start,
I don’t even know what songs
would please you. I have given up trying
to recognize you in the surging wave of the next
All the immense
images in me -- the far-off, deeply-felt
landscape, cities, towers, and bridges, and
unsuspected turns in the path,
and those powerful lands that were once
pulsing with the life of the gods--
all rise within me to mean
you, who forever elude me.
You, Beloved, who are all
the gardens I have ever gazed at,
longing. An open window
in a country house-- , and you almost
stepped out, pensive, to meet me.
Streets that I chanced upon,--
you had just walked down them and vanished.
And sometimes, in a shop, the mirrors
were still dizzy with your presence and,
startled, gave back my too-sudden image.
Who knows? Perhaps the same
bird echoed through both of us
yesterday, separate, in the evening...
–Rainer Maria Rilke
My wish is that you may be loved to the point of madness.
Although you sit in a room that is gray,Except for the silverOf the straw-paper,And pickAt your pale white gown;Or lift one of the green beadsOf your necklace,To let it fall;Or gaze at your green fanPrinted with the red branches of a red willow;Or, with one finger,Move the leaf in the bowl--The leaf that has fallen from the branches of the forsythiaBeside you...What is all this?I know how furiously your heart is beating.
The Gray Room
—Love is fragile —she was thinking —but perhaps the pieces are saved, the things that hovered on lips, that might have been said. The new love words, the tendernesses learned, are treasured up for the next lover.–F. Scott Fitzgerald
In the summerI stretch out on the shoreAnd think of you.
Had I told the sea
What I felt for you,
It would have left its shores,
And followed me.
I want a trouble-maker for a lover;
blood spiller, blood drinker, a heart of flame.
Who quarrels with the sky and fights with fate.
Who burns like fire on the rushing sea.
Utka Nayika - A lady awaits her lover in the forest ca 1775-1780
She pressed her ear against the shell:
she wanted to hear everything
he never told her.—Dunya Mikhail
Tablets, section 1
i love you much(most beautiful darling)
more than anyone on the earth and ilike you better than everything in the sky-sunlight and singing welcome your comingalthough winter may be everywherewith such a silence and such a darknessnoone can quite begin to guess(except my life)the true time of year-and if what calls itself a world should havethe luck to hear such singing(or glimpse suchsunlight as will leap higher than highthrough gayer than gayest someone's heart at your eachnearness)everyone certainly would(mymost beautiful darling)believe in nothing but love
–E. E. Cummings
i love you much(most beautiful darling)
is a single creature, whole,
its life is one, never less than one, or more,
so is its world, and so
are two bodies in their love for one another
one. In ignorance of this
we talk ourselves to death.
from Sabbaths, XIV
1025 moleculesare enough
to call woodthrush or apple.
A hummingbird, fewer.
A wristwatch: 1024.
An alphabet's molecules,
tasting of honey, iron and salt,
cannot be counted–
as some strings, untouched,
sound when a near one is speaking.
As it was when love slipped inside us.
It looked out to face in every direction.
Then it was inside the tree, the rock, the cloud.
First Light Edging Cirrus
See how in their veins all becomes spirit:
into each other they mature and grow.
Like axles, their forms tremblingly orbit,
round which it whirls, bewitching and aglow.
Thirsters, and they receive drink,
watchers, and see: they receive sight.
Let them into one another sink
so as to endure each other outright.
–Rainer Maria Rilke
A moment of happiness,you and I sitting on the verandah,apparently two, but one in soul, you and I.We feel the flowing water of life here,you and I, with the garden's beautyand the birds singing.The stars will be watching us,and we will show themwhat it is to be a thin crescent moon.You and I unselfed, will be together,indifferent to idle speculation, you and I.The parrots of heaven will be cracking sugaras we laugh together, you and I.In one form upon this earth,and in another form in a timeless sweet land.
I do not resemble your other lovers, my lady
Should another give you a cloud
I give you rain
Should he give you a lantern, I
will give you the moon
Should he give you a branch
I will give you the trees
And if another gives you a ship
I shall give you the journey.
Love happened at last,
And we entered God's paradise,
Under the skin of the water
We saw the precious pearls of the sea
And were amazed.
Love happened at last
Without intimidation…with symmetry of wish.
So I gave…and you gave
And we were fair.
It happened with marvelous ease
Like writing with jasmine water,
Like a spring flowing from the ground.
on entering the sea
Everything remembers something. The rock, its fiery bed,
cooling and fissuring into cracked pieces, the rub
of watery fingers along its edge.
The cloud remembers being elephant, camel, giraffe,remembers being a veil over the face of the sun,gathering itself together for the fall.The turtle remembers the sea, sliding over and underits belly, remembers legs like wings, escaping downthe sand under the beaks of savage birds.The tree remembers the story of each ring, the yearsof drought, the floods, the way things camewalking slowly towards it long ago.And the skin remembers its scars, and the bone acheswhere it was broken. The feet remember the dance,and the arms remember lifting up the child.The heart remembers everything it loved and gave away,everything it lost and found again, and everyoneit loved, the heart cannot forget.
what the heart cannot forgetComing Back to the Body
I do not love you as if you were the salt-rose, or topaz,or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,in secret, between the shadow and the soul.I love you as the plant that never bloomsbut carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;so I love you because I know no other waythan this: where I does not exist, nor you,so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.
Te l’ai dit en janvier
Te le dirai en août.
I told you in January
I will tell you in August.
When you find a manWho transforms
Every part of you
Who makes each one of your hairs
Into a poem,
When you find a man,
As I am
Of bathing and adorning you
I will beg you
To follow him without hesitation,
It is not important
That you belong to me or him
But that you belong to poetry.
Bassam K. Frangieh and
Clementina R. Brown translation
You have to learn to get up from the table when love is no longer being served.
you politely ask me not to die and i promise not to
right from the beginning—a relationship based on
good sense and thoughtfulness in little things
i would like to be loved for such simple attainments
as breathing regularly and not falling down too often
or because my eyes are brown or my father left-handed
and to be on the safe side i wouldn’t mind if somehow
i became entangled in your perception of admirable objects
so you might say to yourself: i have recently noticed
how superbly situated the empire state building is
how it looms up suddenly behind cemeteries and rivers
so far away you could touch it—therefore i love you
part of me fears that some moron is already plotting
to tear down the empire state building and replace it
with a block of staten island mother/daughter houses
just as part of me fears that if you love me for my cleanliness
i will grow filthy if you admire my elegant clothes
i’ll start wearing shirts with sailboats on them
but i have decided to become a public beach an opera house
a regularly scheduled flight—something that can’t help being
in the right place at the right time—come take your seat
we’ll raise the curtain fill the house start the engines
fly off into the sunrise, the spire of the empire state
the last sight on the horizon as the earth begins to curve
somewhere i have never traveled,gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near
your slightest look easily will enclose methough i have closed myself as fingers,you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens(touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first roseor if your wish be to close me,i andmy life will shut very beautifully ,suddenly,as when the heart of this flower imaginesthe snow carefully everywhere descending;nothing which we are to perceive in this world equalsthe power of your intense fragility:whose texturecompels me with the colour of its countries,rendering death and forever with each breathing(i do not know what it is about you that closesand opens;only something in me understandsthe voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands
–E. E. Cummings
Even if I now saw you only once,
I would long for you through worlds,
The Ink Dark Moon, excerpt
Jane Hirshfield translation
true lovers in each happening of their hearts
live longer than all which and every who;
despite what fear denies,what hope asserts,
what falsest both disprove by proving true
(all doubts,all certainties,as villains strive
and heroes through the mere mind’s poor pretend
—grim comics of duration:only love
immortally occurs beyond the mind)
such a forever is love’s any now
and her each here is such an everywhere,
even more true would truest lovers grow
if out of midnight dropped more suns than are
(yes;and if time should ask into his was
all shall,their eyes would never miss a yes)
–E. E. Cummings
Two souls are sometimes created together
and in love before they’re born.
–F. Scott Fitzgerald
Didn't you like the way the ants helpthe peony globes open by eating the glue off?Weren't you cheered to see the ironworkerssitting on an I-beam dangling from a cable,in a row, like starlings, eating lunch, maybebaloney on white with fluorescent mustard?Wasn't it a revelation to wagglefrom the estuary all the way up the river,the kill, the pirle, the run, the rent, the beck,the sike barely trickling, to the shock of a spring?Didn't you almost shiver, hearing book liceclicking their sexual dissonance inside an oldWebster' s New International, perhaps having justeaten of it izle, xyster, and thalassacon?Forget about becoming emaciated. Think of the wrenand how little flesh is needed to make a song.Didn't it seem somehow familiar when the nymphsplit open and the mayfly struggled freeand flew and perched and then its own backbroke open and the imago, the true adult,somersaulted out and took flight, seekingthe swarm, mouth-parts vestigial,alimentary canal come to a stop,a day or hour left to find the desired one?Or when Casanova took up the platterof linguine in squid's ink and slid the stuffout the window, telling his startled companion,"The perfected lover does not eat."Didn't you glimpse in the monarchswhat seemed your own inner blazonryflapping and gliding, in desire, in the middle air?Weren't you reassured to think these flimsyhinged beings, and then their offspring,and then their offspring' s offspring, couldnavigate, working in shifts, all the way to Mexico,to the exact plot, perhaps the very tree,by tracing the flair of the bodies of ancestorswho fell in this same migration a year ago?Doesn't it outdo the pleasure of the brilliant concertto wake in the night and find ourselvesholding hands in our sleep?–Galway Kinnell
When I love
I feel that I am the king of time
I possess the earth and everything on it
and ride into the sun upon my horse.
When I loveI become liquid lightinvisible to the eyeand the poems in my notebooksbecome fields of mimosa and poppy.
When I lovethe water gushes from my fingersgrass grows on my tonguewhen I loveI become time outside all time.
When I love a womanall the treesrun barefoot toward me…
when i love
An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance.The thread may stretch or tangle,
but it will never break.
if strangers meet life begins- not poor not rich (only aware) kind neither nor cruel (only complete) i not not you not possible; only truthful -truthfully,once if strangers(who deep our most are selves)touch: forever (and so to dark)–E. E. Cummings
Take a lover who looks at you like maybe you are magic.
Find me now. Before someone else does. –Haruki Murakami
You know that place between sleep and awake;
that place where you can still remember dreaming?
That’s where I will always love you.
That’s where I will be waiting.
She is sixty. She lives
the greatest love of her life.
She walks arm-in-arm with her dear one,
her hair streams in the wind.
Her dear one says:
"You have hair like pearls."
Her children say:
In the dusk, the path you used to come to me is overgrown
except for the spider webs that hang across it
like threads of sorrow.
–Lady Izumi Shikibu,
born 976 CE
Two shall be born, the whole wide world apart,And speak in different tongues and have no thoughtEach of the other's being, and no heed.And these, o'er unknown seas, to unknown landsShall cross, escaping wreck, defying death;And all unconsciously shape every actAnd bend each wandering step to this one end -That, one day, out of darkness they shall meetAnd read life's meaning in each other's eyes.And two shall walk some narrow way of lifeSo nearly side by side that, should one turnEver so little space to left or right,They needs must stand acknowledged, face to face.And, yet, with wistful eyes that never meetAnd groping hands that never clasp and lipsCalling in vain to ears that never hear,They seek each other all their weary daysAnd die unsatisfied - and this is Fate!–Susan Marr Spalding [1841-1908]
She has composed, so long, a self with which to welcome him,Companion to his self for her, which she imagined,Two in a deep-founded sheltering, friend and dear friend.The trees had been mended, as an essential exerciseIn an inhuman meditation, larger than her own.No winds like dogs watched over her at night.She wanted nothing he could not bring her by coming alone.She wanted no fetchings. His arms would be her necklaceAnd her belt, the final fortune of their desire.But was it Ulysses? Or was it only the warmth of the sunOn her pillow? The thought kept beating in her like her heart.The two kept beating together. It was only day.It was Ulysses and it was not. Yet they had met,Friend and dear friend and a planet's encouragement.The barbarous strength within her would never fail.She would talk a little to herself as she combed her hair,Repeating his name with its patient syllables,Never forgetting him that kept coming constantly so near.
Words, wide night
Somewhere on the other side of this wide nightand the distance between us, I am thinking of you.The room is turning slowly away from the moon.This is pleasurable. Or shall I cross that out and sayit is sad? In one of the tenses I am singingan impossible song of desire that you cannot hear.La lala la. See?I close my eyes and imagine the dark hills I would have to crossto reach you. For I am in love with youand this is what it is like or what it is like in words.
–Carol Ann Duffy
I do not know where either of us can turnJust at first, waking from the sleep of each other.I do not know how we can bearThe river struck by the gold plummet of the moon,Or many trees shaken together in the darkness.We shall wish not to be aloneAnd that love were not dispersed and set free—Though you defeat me,And I be heavy upon you.But like earth heaped over the heartIs love grown perfect.Like a shell over the beat of lifeIs love perfect to the last.So let it be the sameWhether we turn to the dark or to the kiss of another;Let us know this for leavetaking,That I may not be heavy upon you,That you may blind me no more.
lookmy fingers, whichtouched youand your warmth and crisplittleness-- see?do not resemble myfingers. My wrists handswhich held carefully the soft silenceof you(and your body
smile eyes feet hands)are differentfrom what they were. My armsin which all of you lay foldedquietly,like aleaf of some flowernewly made by SpringHerself, are not myarms, I do not recogniseas myself this which i find beforeme in a mirror, i donot believei have ever seen these things;someone whom you loveand who is slenderertaller thanmyself has entered and become suchlips as i use to talk with,a new person is alive andgestures with myor it is perhaps you whowith my voiceare playing.
–E. E. Cummings
I exist in two places, here and where you are
To kiss a forehead is to erase worry.I kiss your forehead.To kiss the eyes is to lift sleeplessness.I kiss your eyes.To kiss the lips is to drink water.I kiss your lips.To kiss a forehead is to erase memory.I kiss your forehead.–Marina Tsvetaevatrans. Ilya Kaminsky and Jean Valentine
They’re both convinced
that a sudden passion joined them.
Such certainty is more beautiful,
but uncertainty is more beautiful still.
Since they’d never met before, they’re sure
that there’d been nothing between them.
But what’s the word from the streets, staircases, hallways—
perhaps they’ve passed by each other a million times?
I want to ask them
if they don’t remember—
a moment face to face
in some revolving door?
perhaps a “sorry” muttered in a crowd?
a curt “wrong number”caught in the receiver?—
but I know the answer.
No, they don’t remember.
They’d be amazed to hear
that Chance has been toying with them
now for years.
Not quite ready yet
to become their Destiny,
it pushed them close, drove them apart,
it barred their path,
stifling a laugh,
and then leaped aside.
There were signs and signals,
even if they couldn’t read them yet.
Perhaps three years ago
or just last Tuesday
a certain leaf fluttered
from one shoulder to another?
Something was dropped and then picked up.
Who knows, maybe the ball that vanished
into childhood’s thicket?
There were doorknobs and doorbells
where one touch had covered another
Suitcases checked and standing side by side.
One night. perhaps, the same dream,
grown hazy by morning.
is only a sequel, after all,
and the book of events
is always open halfway through.
Love At First Sight
if I never see you againI will always carry youinsideoutsideon my fingertipsand at brain edgesand in centerscentersof what I am ofwhat remains.–Charles Bukowski
from a letter to Katherine, 25th January 1976
Extinguish my eyes, I’ll go on seeing you.Seal my ears, I’ll go on hearing you.And without feet I can make my way to you,without a mouth I can swear your name.Break off my arms, I’ll take hold of youwith my heart as with a hand.Stop my heart, and my brain will start to beat.And if you consume my brain with fire,I’ll feel you burn in every drop of my blood.– Rainer Maria Rilke
I wish I’d done everything on Earth with you.
–F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby
In The Rainin the rain-darkness, the sunsetbeing sheathed i sit andthink of youthe holycity which is your faceyour little cheeks the streetsof smilesyour eyes half-thrushhalf-angel and your drowsylips where float flowers of kissandthere is the sweet shy pirouetteyour hairand thenyour dancesongsoul. rarely-beloveda single star isuttered,and ithinkof youE. E. Cummings
In the summerI stretch out on the shoreAnd think of you.
Had I told the seaWhat I felt for you,It would have left its shores,Its shells,Its fish,And followed me.–Nizar Qabbani
Every time I kiss youAfter a long separationI feelI am putting a hurried love letterIn a red mailbox.–Nizar Qabbani
I know all that's wrong with coveting your neighbor's life,
but I want the one I've invented for this couple in front
of me in line at the license bureau.I can see the pulse in his temple, the faint downalong her jaw. But I can't understand their constant murmurings,
so practiced they are at keeping in and keeping out.She's 70 and beautiful, he's matter-of-factly rapt.
They never quite touch, though they incline themselves
to receive whatever's given.I study the driver's handbook, memorizing numbers
I'll forget tomorrow.Before she steps away for the official photograph,
she reties the bow at her throat.Her husband's shoes are freshly shined,his neck pink from the barber's clippers.When his wife comes shyly back he lifts his arms,asking her to dance.
My own rise up in reply.–Sharon Bryan
At gate C22 in the Portland airporta man in a broad-band leather hat kisseda woman arriving from Orange County.They kissed and kissed and kissed. Long afterthe other passengers clicked the handles of their carry-onsand wheeled briskly toward short-term parking,the couple stood there, arms wrapped around each otherlike he'd just staggered off the boat at Ellis Island,like she'd been released at last from ICU, snappedout of a coma, survived bone cancer, made it downfrom Annapurna in only the clothes she was wearing.Neither of them was young. His beard was gray.She carried a few extra pounds you could imagineher saying she had to lose. But they kissed lavishkisses like the ocean in the early morning,the way it gathers and swells, suckingeach rock under, swallowing itagain and again. We were all watching -passengers waiting for the delayed flightto San Jose, the stewardesses, the pilots,the aproned woman icing Cinnabons, the man sellingsunglasses. We couldn't look away. We couldtaste the kisses crushed in our mouths.But the best part was his face. When he drew backand looked at her, his smile soft with wonder, almostas though he were a mother still open from giving birth,as your mother must have looked at you, no matterwhat happened after - if she beat you or left you oryou're lonely now - you once lay there, the vernixnot yet wiped off, and someone gazed at youas if you were the first sunrise seen from the Earth.The whole wing of the airport hushed,all of us trying to slip into that woman's middle-aged body,her plaid Bermuda shorts, sleeveless blouse, glasses,little gold hoop earrings, tilting our heads up.–Ellen Bass
Day after day I think of you as soon as I wake up.Someone has put cries of birds on the air like jewels.
from Short Talks
If for a moment
the leaves fell upward,
if it seemed a small flockof brown-orange birdscircled over the trees,
if they circled then scattered each inits own direction for the lost seedthey had spotted in tall, gold-checkered grass.
If the bloom of flies on the windowin morning sun, if their singing insistenceon grief and desire. If the fish.If the rise of the fish.
If the blue morning held in the glass of the window,if my fingers, my palms. If my thighs.If your hands, if my thighs.
If the seeds, among all the lost gold of the grass.If your hands on my thighs, if your tongue.
If the leaves. If the singing fell upward. If grief.For a moment if singing and grief.
If the blue of the body fell upward, out of our hands.If the morning held it like leaves.
The Lives of the Heart
You, sent out beyond your recall,go to the limits of your longing.Embody me.Flare up like flameand make big shadows I can move in.Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.Just keep going. No feeling is final.Don’t let yourself lose me.—Rainer Maria RilkeLet Everything Happen
and the longing in between
is an tnúthán eatarthu–Gabriel Rosenstock
it is so long since my heart has been with yours
shut by our mingling arms througha darkness where new lights begin andincrease,since your mind has walked intomy kiss as a strangerinto the streets and colours of a town-that i have perhaps forgottenhow,always(fromthese hurrying cruditiesof blood and flesh)Lovecoins His most gradual gesture,and whittles life to eternity-after which our separating selves become museumsfilled with skilfully stuffed memories
–E. E. Cummings
I thought of you and how you love this beauty,
And walking up the long beach all alone
I heard the waves breaking in measured thunder
As you and I once heard their monotone.
Around me were the echoing dunes, beyond me
The cold and silver of the sea –
We two will pass through death and ages lengthen
Before you hear that sound again with me.
To be in love
Is to touch with a lighter hand.
In yourself you stretch, you are well.
You look at things
Through his eyes.
A cardinal is red.
A sky is blue.
Suddenly you know he knows too.
He is not there but
You know you are tasting together
The winter or a light spring weather.
His hand to take your hand is overmuch.
Too much to bear.
You cannot look in his eyes
Because your pulse must not say
What must not be said.
Shuts a door-
Is not there_
Your arms are water.
And you are free
With a ghastly freedom.
You are the beautiful half
Of a golden hurt.
You remember and covet his mouth
To touch, to whisper on.
Oh when to declare
Is certain Death!
Oh when to apprize
Is to mesmerize,
To see fall down, the Column of Gold,
Into the commonest ash.
one's not half two. It's two are halves of one:which halves reintegrating,shall occurno death and any quantity;but thanall numerable mosts the actual moreminds ignorant of stern miraculousthis everytruth-beware of heartless them(given the scalpel,they dissect a kiss;or,sold the reason,they undream a dream)one is the song which friends and angels sing:all murdering lies by mortals told make two.Let liars wilt,repaying life they're loaned;we(by a gift called dying born)must growdeep in dark least ourselves rememberinglove only rides his year.All lose, whole find
–E. E. Cummings
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;I lift my lids and all is born again.(I think I made you up inside my head.)The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,And arbitrary blackness gallops in:I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.I dreamed that you bewitched me into bedAnd sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.(I think I made you up inside my head.)God topples from the sky, hell's fires fade:Exit seraphim and Satan's men:I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.I fancied you'd return the way you said,But I grow old and I forget your name.(I think I made you up inside my head.)I should have loved a thunderbird instead;At least when spring comes they roar back again.I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.(I think I made you up inside my head.)–Sylvia PlathMad Girl's Love Song
I am tired, Beloved, of chafing my heart againstThe want of you...
–Amy Lowellfrom The Letter