I wrote the following musings after an unprecedented number of conversations with friends about love in a single week, and in an effort to change up my post style + get this week’s post scheduled on time + give some sort of nod to the single day that, for whatever reason, characterizes the entire month of February, I’m sharing them here.
In exchange, will you answer a question for me? How does one find good modern poetry? Actually, I guess I have two questions. Who decides what good modern poetry looks like?
Three. Sue me. Have you ever read a piece so profound that it stopped you in your tracks, but then realized it treated something so ordinary it was almost profane? An old friend once tried to convince me that Coldplay’s song “Fix You” was about Chris Martin taking his dog to get neutered, and not, in fact, written for Gwyneth Paltrow after her dad died. I still don’t believe this. But it does make me wonder.
Apropos of Nothing
“I’ve only loved one girl,” he tells me
And it’s past-tense, ended
I could ask why he’s pretending now, but I think I understand
It’s easier to lie to ourselves about love
Than about loneliness
“The longest distance is the one between the head and the heart,” she says sagely
And my own heart shatters silently, because I
Have imparted hope where I should have advised caution
This, I think, is the razor edge of feeling
Happiness holds hands with pain
“He thinks I purposely do the things I do in order not to feel that void,” he remarks
And the incredulity crackles in my veins, riots
Against my skin—for him, for me, for whole
People and shadow people both. I bite
Back the response pressing against my teeth—
Don’t we all?
“I have never loved anyone,” I offer with a shrug
But the words fall heavy in the space between
And I wonder, how many questions did the one contain?
How many secrets
So neatly boxed and tied shut just moments ago
Now lie broken open at our feet?
I hold words in my hands:
“Saying ‘I love you'”
“A lifetime of sadness”
I juxtapose them, and the idea occurs
They’re sort of one and the same
Whisper it like it’s a secret
To be loved, to be lonely
They are not mutually exclusive propositions
Only to condemn the one who hears it
How much of love is obligation
Is unrewarded investment, is fear by another name
With a heavy heart
It’s uncharted territory, love in the modern age
We clasp the shackles around our own ankles
And plead only that we not walk alone
Cursed is the fool who’s willing