the heart howling

I wake up like a stray dog
belonging to no one.
Cold, cold, and the rain.
Friendships outgrown or ruined.
And love, dear God, the women
I have loved now only names
remembered: dead, lost, or old.
Mildness more and more the danger.
Living among rocks and weeds
to guard against wisdom.
Alone with the heart howling
and refusing to let it feed on
mere affection. Lying in the dark,
singing about the intractable
binds of happiness.

[Jack Gilbert, 'Between Aging and Old', from The Great Fires]

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