Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Aimless Love

I'm sure they wouldn't all agree with this, but I think that poets probably understand asexual love better than most. My little quote at the top of the page, "Of course, there's always something to fall in love with" is from a response to this question on a long-ago Myspace survey: "Did you fall in love this year?" For me, the question was ridiculous and the answer was "Well, duh!" While my major loves remain few and monolithic, I definitely have more fleeting loves on a semi-regular basis. This is why I write, and as an amateur poet, I find a passion for life's overlooked details essential to the process. But like LeVar Burton, don't take my word for it. Here's the poem that inspired these thoughts, "Aimless Love" by Billy Collins. Collins was America's Poet Laureate from 2001-2003, and even though his poems can veer over that pivotal one-page length, they are usually very easy to read. Sometimes, even funny! So check out this one from his collection Nine Horses:

Aimless Love

This morning as I walked along the lakeshore,
I fell in love with a wren
and later in the day with a mouse
the cat had dropped under the dining room table.

In the shadows of an autumn evening,
I fell for a seamstress
still at her machine in the tailor's window,
and later for a bowl of broth,
steam rising like smoke from a naval battle.

This is the best kind of love, I thought,
without recompense, without gifts,
or unkind words, without suspicion,
or silence on the telephone.

The love of the chestnut,
the jazz cap and one hand on the wheel.

No lust, no slam of the door--
the love of the miniature orange tree,
the clean white shirt, the hot evening shower,
the highway that cuts across Florida.

No waiting, no huffiness, or rancor--
just a twinge every now and then

for the wren who had built her nest
on a low branch overhanging the water
and for the dead mouse,
still dressed in its light brown suit.

But my heart is always propped up
in a field on its tripod,
ready for the next arrow.

After I carried the mouse by the tail
to a pile of leaves in the woods,
I found myself standing at the bathroom sink
gazing down affectionately at the soap,

so patient and soluble,
so at home in its pale green soap dish.
I could feel myself falling again
as I felt its turning in my wet hands
and caught the scent of lavender and stone.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Gorgeous poem. The way it manages to capture those feelings is so clean and precise that it's inspiring.

Ily said...

Glad you liked it! It's definitely my favorite poem in the book.

Heidi said...

Thank you soooo much for posting that! It was just what I needed (and reposted), so eloquent and appropriate for the "loves" in life =)

Ily said...

Yay! You are very welcome!

Tomatl said...

What a grade A poem! (sorry i know you hate puns) I've always wondered if sexual people had as much depth of love and passion for "non" sexual things as I do. Have you read Mary Oliver's "Of Love"? I'm beginning to wonder if all the transcendentalist poets were A...

Ily said...

Haven't read that one, but I will for sure!