Tag Archives: tenderness

Poetry: Crown for a Young Marriage

This excerpt is from one of my favorite contemporary poems, which was just selected by Rattle for one of this year’s Pushcart Prize nominations. Extraordinary, illuminated.

If I was nothing else, but was a wife;
If I did nothing else, but could make meals
with scraps and pantry staples and a knife
I got when I was twenty-nine; if real
commitment (an abstract and noble word
before it tangles up with sacrifice)
turns out to mean a smaller life, less heard,
less heralded, less published, and less prized;
if after spending summer days indoors
for several years, and writing frightening verse
I’m eighty-odd and pale and little more
than what I am today, will I be worse
off than my single, roving poet friends?
I doubt it, but you’ll have to ask me then.
I doubt it, but you’ll have to ask me then.
I doubt that I’ll be doddering and hunched
and wishing I could do it all again
because I felt I’d missed out on a bunch
of fellowships. And Christ, I love you. Christ
do I remember loneliness, and what
I did for scraps of evenings, what sufficed
for kindness. Offer me a life, a glut
of love, of undeserved reserves of grace
and nice interpretations of my faults.
I’ll still find ways to be unhappy. Face
the facts, though—I’m at home filling the salt
shakers, cleaning the microwave, unknown.
But staunchly, resolutely unalone.
-Mary Block (view her website here)

Art Love: Andre Kohn

andre kohn dancers

Art Love – And They Lived Tenderly for Many Days

pascalcampiondigitalcoupleDigital art from talented artist Pascal Campion

Where Love Resides

They fall into exhaustion rather than into gentle sleep,
each limb heavy with the ash of its bonfires burned completely down,
not curled but sprawled, claiming all the space of their bed,

two bodies that attempted fusion, both straining to push into
what is impenetrable in the other, wanting the only way they know
to try, to perhaps break through the inherent loneliness of skin.

Now, very late, leg over leg, arm across chest, they breathe deep as newborns,
as if drawing from the stuffy air replenishment after their struggle.  No dreams
tonight.  Instead, only thick flesh, cooling back into their separate selves.

What will they say when they stir back into the world,
conscious, suddenly, of their edges as morning sun floods their sheets?
What will their first words be upon waking?

They each will arrive in the new day alone, surprised, as they were at their own births,
and at death, and as after each sleep, utterly bound in the locked rooms
of their bodies. Will they recognize their loneliness?  Will they speak of it?

For this is the most fragile moment, with mussed hair and sour breath,
when wild abandon has dispersed and the habitual seeing returns
in the glaring light of every day.  Who can they tell?

If love resides anywhere, it is here: in the waking face, the tender hand that reaches
to touch that face.  It is in the gestures they choose to give, and in their decision,
whether or not they will speak, one to the other, of their true need.

-Joanne Esser, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review

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