Monday, February 14, 2011

The Unspeakable Sweetness

of some days. Spent the day hearing love stories. Worked at school with K and D at a Poetry on Demand booth. We asked for a name, some pet names, inside joke, a symbol, a color, a memory, a pet, a shared-thing or whatever we could be told to write a poem from one person who loved another. We had a husband/father/grandfather/great grandfather buy a poem for each of his four ladies and a cool faculty member tell of meeting his dancer wife when he was fifty, she: six months along and he fell in helpless, life-changing love. Now they have two kids and a life full of color and motion and he seems happy every time I see him. She is "the dream of my life" he said, "the mother of my children" and D and me, romantics from way back, we just beamed and began cutting out hearts (she) and writing the zillionth custom poem of the day (me). One lovely young woman who ordered a poem up last year for the same beloved who, having lived overseas much of this year, is finally coming home. She had sent him her grandmother's china teacups from the set that he wanted to drink from and know that it would be reunited with the set in the home they would soon share. It cheers a girl to think of all that love and the fun of writing a poem for lovers new and old and children (two little girls named Mila and Nina, the daughter of a new interesting friend). Nonetheless, this girl is as wiped-out as her own beloved who is still himself, ailing from the a cold. The reservations for the much-anticipated Cinco de Mayo (camerones diablo!) will have to be cancelled but there is something dear about a night indoors, bundled up and needing nothing by way of love.

Selections from Borrowed Love Poems


What can I do, if a red meteor wakes the earth
and the color of robbery is in the air

Now that I dream of you so much
my lips are like clouds

drifting above the shadow of one who is asleep
Now that the moon is enthralled with a wall

What can I do, if one of us is lying on the earth
and the other is lost in the sky


To some, the winter sky is a blue peach
teeming with worms

and the clouds are growing thick
with sour milk

What can I do, now that the fat black sea
is seething

now that I have refused to return
my borrowed dust to the butterflies

their wings full of yellow flour


What can I do, I never believed happiness
could be premeditated

What can I do, having argued with the obedient world
that language will infiltrate its walls

What can I do, now that I have sent you
a necklace of dead dried bees

and now that I want to
be like the necklace

and turn flowers into red candles
pouring from the sun


What can I do, now that I have spent my life
studying the physics of good-bye

every velocity and particle in all the waves
undulating through the relapse of a moment's fission

now that I must surrender this violin
to the sea's foaming black tongue

now that January is almost here
and I have started celebrating a completely different life

John Yau
(reprinted from Boston Review)

1 comment:

Gretch said...

Only you could write a billion poems like that on demand. Wow! Over here: rhymed hilarity and when I got back to the booth after teaching, my students said, "High pressure! We have to get a girl back for this guy!"