Let's say the place where you wish to belong
won't have you, and the nights turn
charcoal, the heat they once engendered
just a darkness now, an absence really,
and you can only talk to your friends
about privation, which means
gradually they won't want you either--
if it came to this, would you
turn away to mope and snivel, or continue
to imagine conversations getting exciting,
sometimes even fiery and brilliant
in the place that won't have you?
And if there's a middle ground
between the actual and the desirable,
can someone like you find it,
and if you could would you consider
it, by definition, bland, dreamless,
and therefore one of those clubs
you wouldn't enter because it accepted you?
And let's say it's true that loving
makes a place for love, opens you
to the frightening possibilities of joy,
and you also know that most romances
are fraught with failure, would you walk
down that aisle anyway? Or would you
continue to live as if there's always
a better elsewhere, a more dazzling partner?
What logic, if logic is to be followed,
would you follow? Will a cold cup of worry
and a spoonful of dread give you more
comfort, better ease you into evening?
[Stephen Dunn, 'Letter to the Man I Once Was', from Lines of Defense: Poems]