don't stop on that account, keep going

It's good we only see each other once a week.
A young man about to move in with his fiancée
died of a sudden heart attack at twenty-six.
One hears these stories all the time.
The heart is trained to handle deprivation,
not unforeseen happiness. Just as when you
throw your arms around me I start to overflow,
but then I think of course, where was she before?
I deserve it and a lot more besides—
your love gets soaked up quickly
and I pull back brooding over something
I never had.
But don't stop on that account, keep going.

I was brought up to make
the most of accidental brushes with kindness.
My pleasures were collected almost unawares
from stationary models, like the girl
who sat in front of me in tenth grade,
who let me stroke and braid her golden hair
and never acknowledged it.
I wouldn't know what to do with frontal love;
would I? One snowy winter night in Montreal
I felt so great I danced a flamenco
and insisted that everyone call me Fernando.
But then I was by myself. And last night,
if there are many more nights
like last night with you —
when I think of all my nights of total happiness
I get the panicky sense that the balance
has already tipped,
and I will never again feel free
to pass myself off as a have-not.

Maybe it's good we only see each other once a week.
But don't stop on that account, keep going.

["It's Good We Only See Each Other Once a Week" by Phillip Lopate, from At the End of the Day, ©Marsh Hawk Press, 2010]

from, and for, Heidi

No comments:

Post a Comment