Epilogue (As an Old-Fashioned Homily)
At the end of my labour
A familiar voice consoles me in intimate whispers:
Don't worry, honey, you haven't erred
In this public celebration of our love.
The great monuments to love like the Taj Mahal,
Transformed private emotions into social ritual.
No grand passion can be contained
Within secret diaries or letters
But must spill out sooner or later into the open.
Love, like money, must be shared,
Not hoarded: so it can multiply.
To broadcast love, therefore, is no crime.
But beware of making it an act
A stunt to gain cheap publicity or praise....
Before she admonishes me further,
I stop her mouth with half a dozen kisses.
The rest of her warnings
Become silly mumblings inside my head.
But now I'd better make a quick getaway
Before I am hooted out by my audience,
And though not vain enough to think (like John Donne)
That our love can serve as an example,
Let me just say, dear reader, that if someone loves you,
Be they fair or plain, don't let go of them:
You won't get such chances again and again.
But if for some reason you cannot reciprocate,
Treat them gently, release them with tenderness,
Remembering Bulleh Shah's wise pronouncement:
Break a temple or a mosque,
But don't break a heart full of love.
For, as the good book saith, the greatest of all is Love.
[From The Serene Flame]
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