If this comes creased and creased again and soiled
as if I’d opened it a thousand times
to see if what I’d written here was right,
it’s all because I looked too long for you
to put in your pocket. Midnight says
the little gifts of loneliness come wrapped
by nervous fingers. What I wanted this
to say was that I want to be so close
that when you find it, it is warm from me.
A week ago, for my birthday, my wife recited this poem to me from memory.
It took my breath away. She took my breath away.
The gift of her time, her patient efforts to put it to mind. A gesture of such vulnerability, there in our kitchen, standing there, in front of a hot stove, reciting these aching, haunting words of love.
The poem is ripe with aloneness and longing. It is also tender and hopeful.
The narrator – just like each of us – wants so badly “to be so close” to the one they love. They want to be sure of that love – that they have expressed it just the right way – in the space of their disconnection and uncertainty.
And I cannot help but read in those last lines…”it is warm from me”…an arrival, a coming together, even though the poet does not give us that connection explicitly, he intimates it as though it is real.
He gives us solid ground on which to stand at just the moment when we feel there is none.
I like this poem for now. I like it for Easter. I like it for Covid-19. I like it for the universality of our experience of the unknown. For our losses, whatever form they take in each of our lives, and for our collective, if hesitant, recognition that we can control only one thing: how we choose to embrace the gift of this moment and the possibility of what’s to come.