Love Letter - Poem by Gjertrud Schnackenberg
Dear love, though I am a hopeless correspondent,
I found your letter habits lacking too
Till I received your card from H.-lulu.
It made me more-than-slightly-less despondent
To see how you transformed your ocean swim
Among dumb bubble-blowers into meters
And daffy rhymes about exotic tweeters
Beyond your balcony at 2 a.m.
I went to bed when you went to Hawaii,
And shut my eyes so tightly I saw stars,
And clenched my sheets like wadded-up memoirs
And made some noise like wah-wah-wah, i.e.,
I find your absence grimly problematic.
The days stack up like empty boxes stored
In ever-higher towers of cardboard
Swaying in senseless-lost-time's spooky attic.
I'll give the -atic rhyme another try.
To misconstrue the point-of-view Socratic,
Life is a painful stammered-out emphatic
Pronunciation of the word Goodbye.
Or, as it came out on the telephone,
Sooner-the-better is the way I see it:
Just say, 'I guess not'; I'll reply, 'So be it.'
Beloved, if you throw this dog a bone,
TO readopt the stray-dog metaphor,
I'll keep my vigil till the cows come home.
You'll hear me howling over there in Rome.
I have no explanations, furthermore-
But let me say I've had it up to here
With scrutinizing the inscrutable;
The whys and how-comes of immutable
Unhesitating passion are unclear-
I don't love you because you're good at rhymes,
And not because I think you're not-so-dumb,
I don't love you because you make me come
And come and come innumerable times,
And not for your romantic overcoats,
And not because our friends all say I should,
And not because we wouldn't or we would
Be or not be at one another's throats,
And not because your accent thrills my ear-
Last night you said not 'sever' but 'severe,'
But then 'severe' describes the act 'to sever'-
I love you for no reason whatsoever.
And that's the worst, as William S. the Bard
Wrote out in black-and-white while cold-and-hot:
Reasons can be removed, but love cannot.
The comic view insists: Don't take it hard,
But every day I'm pacing up and down
The hallway till I drive my neighbors mad,
And evenings come with what-cannot-be-had
As lights blink on around this boring town,
Whence I unplug the phone and draw the shade
And drink myself half-blind and fantasize
That we're between the sheets, your brilliant eyes
Open me and, bang, we have it make-
When in reality I sit alone
And, staring at my hands, I think 'I think
Till love and fame to nothingness do sink'
While hating everything I've always known
About how you and I are sunk as well.
Under the aspect of eternity
The world has already ended anyway.
And, without you, my life can go to hell
On roller skates, as far as I'm concerned.
Two things are clear: these quatrains should be burned,
And love is awful, but it leads us to
Our places in the human comedy,
Frescoes of which abound in Italy.
And though I won't be sitting next to you,
I'll take my seat with minimal complaints.
May you sit in the company of saints
And intellectuals and fabulous beauties,
And not forget this constant love of Trude's.
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