Eros in an issue of boundaries. He exists because certain boundaries do. In the interval between reach and grasp, between glance and counterglance, between ‘I love you’ and ‘I love you too’, the absent presence of desire comes alive. But the boundaries of time and glance and I love you are only aftershocks of the main, inevitable boundary that creates Eros: the boundary of flesh and self between you and me. And it is only, suddenly, at the moment when I would dissolve that boundary, I realize I never can.
Anne Carson, from Eros the Bittersweet
All the time I kept you out of my poems,
you found a way into my body instead.
Instead of your becoming another word
for dove or wrist bone, owl or stone,
you’ve become the impulse that has me
raise cairns to mark my way. You’re
what all verbs traverse, a fuse for the urge
to look at what I can’t see within what I can;
also the stillness inside me as wind-riven
leaves are driven over the roof shingles
into the night. Kindled by earth and sky,
you’re the touch of a tongue on my skin,
contingent and mortal; and the shy
reluctant love of faithfulness to what I feel
when at times I think there are no gods.
You are in me what is crucial and crucible
when the soul, in its root-fire, lasers and welds
each fissure and craze line of my loving elusive,
if pervasive, you. How stark it is to be alive–
and, although absence is the form you take
in what we call the world, how durable …
Margaret Gibson, “Not to Remain Altogether Silent,” Not Hearing the Wood Thrush
“If you allow an experienced man of the world to introduce you to passion when you want him more than he wants you, he will own your soul, but you will not own his.”
— Mary Jo Putney, The Bargain
in the country where my dreams are like bark
peeled off by lightning I was with her […]
while the wolf had the moon by the throat
I said I love you in the field of honor
and she was like a colt
and she was water I held in my hands
and she was the canoe I worked through the river
and she was the flash at two-thirty in the morning of the suicidal knife
and she was a fire of pine cones who ran like a deer
and she was a butterfly that lit on the float of my pole
and she was night herself
she was the cape I drew over my body
Frank Stanford, lines 4906-4917, from The Battlefield Where the Moon Says I Love You (Lost Roads Publishers, 2000)
Now the rafters are empty,
replaced by dim slats of sunlight, slanted
rungs for mote & fleck climbing to a place
where memories faintly brood, where a dove
coos softly for any heart’s longing to answer.
Outside, the carefree swallows sweep about,
another afternoon unable to keep time still.
me, summer was singing apart as we who were silence, sympathy,
sorrowful freedom, were sea still more than the sea whose long
blue spade was playing at our feet.
Summer was singing and your heart swam far from it.
I embraced your courage, heard your confusion. Road along the
absolute of waves toward those high peaks of foam where virtues
sail, murderous to hands bearing our houses. We were not credulous.
We were surrounded.
The years passed by. The storms died down. The world went
its way. I suffered to think it was your heart which no longer perceived
me. I loved you. In my absence of visage and my emptiness
of joy. I loved you, changing in every way, faithful to you.
whose crescent slices into the dynasty of absurd griefs, the great
preserver of wild birds, the sea believing like a bindweed.
Oh rainbow of this shining shore, bring the ship close to its
hope. Make every supposed goal find some new innocence, a feverish
forwardness for those who are stumbling in the heaviness of