Posts Tagged ‘love’



She looks so happy with her new baby, all coo

and smile and jiggle and swing.


I smile at her, and think of everything

I do not tell her. How the child will grow up


to break her heart over and over. How

she will give him more love


than she knew she had, and it will not

be enough. How he will hate her


for holding a line. How she must hold it,

still. How she will come to doubt herself.


How all of us are broken, no

matter how hard we’ve worked to be


whole, and how none of us can

carry the other, no matter how


much we long to. How she will

beg her own heart, Stay open,


stay open. And how some wise friend

may someday say to her,


Shut down your big heart

at many a time. It needs to rest


while you are awake.

And she will know perhaps by then


the truth of love, how it is never

what we imagined. How


big a risk it is to love. How

everything depends on this. And how


she will weep, someday, watching

another young mother in the park,


cooing at her baby, remembering

how simple it seemed, and how


perhaps it is still that simple,

a mother, a child, a big world to explore.

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Something makes us turn—

though they tell us, go straight.

Though they tell us, look ahead,

something in us knows there’s another path.

And it’s ours.


When I met Modigliani,

what did I know of love?

I was on honeymoon in Paris.

He an impoverished Italian Jew.

We would recite Verlaine

under his black umbrella

in the warm summer rain.

He begged me, don’t go back to Russia.

I did.


That winter he wrote me:

Vous êtes en moi comme une hantise;

You are obsessively part of me.

And I knew it was true,

that he was more myself

than my own familiar hands.

Back in St. Petersburg,

I would touch my lips in the mirror

and say my own name

and believe my voice was his.


I think of Lot’s wife.

How they told her not to turn,

to not look at Sodom, her home,

but how could she not

turn to the green fields where she had sung,

turn to the bed where her children

were made, turn to the place

of her blood?


When I turned back to Paris

I was not transformed into salt

but into chalk on paper.


Modigliani always drew me

in long spare lines—but never

while we were together.

Always from memory when he was alone.

With me, his hands

were too busy for crayons,


He’d slip off my dress,

and in my breast,

he’d visit my beloved Russian steppes,

in my waist, he buried himself

in Siberian snow,

and between my thighs,

he was baptized again and again

in the floodwaters of the Neva.


They’ve not yet made

a corset that will fit me—

how could it when I

am all of Russia?


I loved him. Wrote him poems.

Left red roses strewn on his floor.

How airy the light was then.

That was before we knew

what our art was for.


We thought it was for each other.

We thought it was for love.


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April 23



How do they do it,

the broad-tailed hummingbirds,

arriving at my window

the same day every year,

welcome as spring,

reliable as moon.


And what part of me

thrills in their predictability?

And what part says,

a tad too triumphantly,

See, here’s proof,

things come back.


I hear the small birds

before I see them,

their wingtips trilling,

I’ve read how the feathers

that make the sound wear down

from use. By midwinter,


you can barely hear

their bright hum at all until,

preparing to breed,

they grow new feathers again.

How do they do it,

grow feathers at just the right time?


I want to linger in the small

miracle of it, these ears still learning

how to hear and this heart still

astonished at the timing

of the world, how life just knows

when to return, when to grow.

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Why I Move Slowly




Today the weight of love

is a basket of river rocks

I’ve chosen to carry.


Though it’s difficult

to walk with this weight,

there’s not one rock


I would throw aside,

each unique, treasured.

There are some who walk


with an empty basket.

Their burden is light.

They move quickly


along the path.

Me, I choose to carry

the weight of love.



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I keep in my pocket

a handful of colons


to pull out in times of need,

you know, for those times


when I’m just not sure

what I’m trying to say.


That’s what a colon’s for.

It says, “Here’s what I mean.”


It’s a way to introduce things,

and you know how valuable


introductions can be.

Something’s so fine about a colon:


  1. the symmetry, of course,
  2. the simplicity, and


  1. the way that it joins

two independent clauses.


And what are you,

really, my love, but one


independent clause,

and what am I but a second,


ever trying to explain,

interpret or expand


on the first. And that

colon between us?


Two stars in an intimate

constellation. Two points


on a map that leads

only in. Twin cherry buds

on an invisible limb

just before they bloom.


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Should We Tell Her?




Somewhere in my heart

there is a tiny woman

with a crimson scarf

and hair pulled back

who is balancing

on a tightrope—

she has not yet learned

that it is okay

for her to fall,

that the net

will always catch her,

so she keeps doing

the same boring walk

back and forth

thinking how brave

and how proficient

she is at staying

on the rope,

never learning

she could also

jump and swing

and leap and twirl and fall

and get back up.


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Love Lessons



When the favorite sweater

becomes threadbare at the wrists

and already you’ve mended it

repeatedly: when you find yourself sewing

on top of your sewing and there

is little left of original thread,

is this when you decide

that the sweater is better worn

with holes, that not everything

needs fixing, that sometimes

what is most loved is what

is most beyond repair?

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One Prayer




with no snow

to make snow angels

I flap my arms

make night angels

send them to you

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No Way to Know Where They Go




By surprise, the snow

takes the night and by morning

nothing is the same

as it was—that’s what it’s like

falling in love. Everything

is the same, only

it isn’t. A steller’s jay

flies bluely through

the new world. Everything

is out there, waiting

for you to discover it again.

There are footprints

in the snow that

aren’t yours. Follow them.

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My son and I lean together over the thin resistor,

the nine volt battery, the LEDs in blue and red.


We fuss with the copper tape as it twists and sticks

where we don’t want it to stick. But eventually,


there is light, a small blue light. He can’t stop looking

at the glow on the table. I can’t stop looking


at the glow in him. I remember so little

about how electricity works. Something


about electrons being pushed through the circuit.

Ours is simple, a series circuit, with only one way


for the electrons to go. But I know that no matter

how complex a circuit, the same laws of physics apply.


It’s like love. No matter how intricate the scenario,

the laws themselves are always the same.


There are two laws of love, I tell myself.

One: you can’t predict anything. And two,


it will change you. For good. I swear

as I stare at him now, I can feel the electrons


moving in my own body. Or are those tears,

twin currents following familiar paths.

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