Asked to write a Valentine’s day poem,
I wanted to say – are you crazy – look outside –
it’s Winter – but I just mumbled something like
“I’ll give it a shot.”
They wanted love –
double-bonded, the saturated fatty acids of feeling –
when life was still surviving day and night
under several layers of thickness.
And what of the woman?
Whichever I chose
would be stumbling through drifts of snow,
body in heavy coat,
head buried in a toke.
We’re talking frozen poetry here –
romance language still in its archaistic state.
What can the idiom of frost bite
say about the touch of a women’s skin?
What does hypothermia know from kisses?
Always willing to take a commission.
I was stopped in my free verse tracks
by a bird on my lawn, dead from cold,
feathers frozen to its side.
The crows had little luck chipping away
at its hardened hide.
At best, that’s grief.
At worst, it’s a grim pointer to the unreasonableness of living.
How can affection square with that?
And when loss is the only sure thing,
what does that do for hope?
I should have just told them it’s impossible.
Or have them move St Valentine’s day to June or July.
And yet it was an important request,
a challenge for me to get totally out of myself.
Could I bid time goodbye?
Get so inside the sensation the outside couldn’t touch me?
But the wind was blowing – flakes glazed the windowpane.
The radiators were fighting the sheer willfulness of low temperatures
with nothing but hisses, burps and rattles.
The muse asked if there’s anything she could do.
Stay close, I replied. So close and blanketing, you could be anyone.