Getting to Know You
We slept into one another.
The mattress sloped us to your side.
We shared three daughters.
Miraculous dull day to day
breakfast and dinner.
But compared to all the optic scanning
the nerve ends of retrospection
in my thirty years of knowing you
cell by cell in my widow's shawl,
we have lived together longer
in the discontinuous films of my sleep
then we did in our warm parasitical bodies.
Thus, by comparison, when the palms
of our hands lay together exchanging oils
and minuscule animals of the skin;
we were relative strangers.
* * *
Looking for a poem about love was harder than I imagined. I felt drawn to poems about the loss of love or the fleetingness of love more than to the celebration of it. I was tempted to put up a poem about a tomato by Pablo Neruda that was both loving and erotic. But in the end this sad but lovely poem by Ruth Stone won me over.
The poem strikes me precisely because romantic love is often held aloft by a perception of the beloved may or may not reflect reality. The love written of in the poem, sustained through a thirty-year-long widowhood, is beautiful; yet it shares this same characteristic. The beloved is long gone, and yet the love remains, growing and shaping dreams and memories.