I’m folding me some paper shoes so I can walk away the blues. The love poems I cannot recall I’ll scuff off as I pass the mall. Someone will find my words all shredded— how you wooed and won and bedded one so young and so naive that she could not help but believe words pilfered from a Hallmark store that you had often used before.
All those lovelorn lines obscured. All that loneliness endured. On Main Street I will shed my heart— that part of me you tore apart. All the lines I wrote about it, all the times I grew to doubt it. Your words the heel, my words the sole, the sidewalks will consume them whole.
All the futile poetry that passed once between you and me ground into the pavement where perhaps two lovers will find it there— the words like seeds that hung around hoping for more fertile ground. Love sprouted from a used-up word might strike some others as absurd, But I like to think perhaps our use of them was just a lapse. Repeated by those other voices who choose to live by other choices, all those words that we now rue might work for lovers who are new.
The prompt word today ispaper. (Image from internet, photographer unknown.)
I am a paragon of virtue. I have no other choice. I do not have a figure. I have no sultry voice. I’ve no talent at kissing. The boys leave me alone. I have no lovers calling me nightly on the phone.
I get my thrills from scripture. I embroider and I tat. The creature that I cuddle with is an old grey cat. Sometimes virtue’s chosen, but it isn’t so with me. I’d rather spend my weekend nights on some feller’s knee.
But it isn’t in the cards. It’s just my Ma and me. I guess I’ll just be buttoned up instead of brash and free. My ma found a new hired man. He isn’t very tall. A moustache but no muscles. Not swashbuckling at all.
But he has a good strong back. He carries water for me. And for reasons I can’t fathom, he seems to adore me. It’s one morning in the cow barn, milking Bossie, that I miss
the bucket with the milk stream when the hired man plants a kiss
on my neck as I bend over. It makes that old cat’s day. He opens up his mouth and drinks as I just dream and sway then turn to open my mouth, too, and see how kisses feel when they are given mouth-to-mouth. It makes me almost reel.
But Hank the hired man catches me, sets me straight again, and that’s the starting of my life as a paragon of sin! Sinning’s not so bad at all. You can’t believe the preacher. And it’s not so hard to do when you have a teacher.
Lessons started in the milking barn but ended in the loft. The hired man got handsomer as he took his clothing off. I think he liked me better, too, when I was in the buff for no matter how much more I showed, it never seemed enough.
We had a lovely time up there, the hired man and me. As testament, now seven kids cluster round my knee. The hired man’s beside me. As I sit and hold his hand, he runs his fingers back and forth across my wedding band.
The old gray cat’s still happy, for sometimes he still gets lucky
when I’m distracted in the milking ’cause my husband’s feeling plucky.
Married life is lovely. We’re happy, him and me. We are paragons of loving for perpetuity.
Even when she’s in the buff, he feels she’s not revealed enough. He wants to know her heart and soul— to know her entire being, his goal. But, alas, she cannot do it. If she does, she knows she’ll rue it. Much as she loves a certain sir, there is a certain part of her that must remain a mystery. For in this maiden’s history are other suitors it behooved to have her secrets all removed. But when she revealed it all, one by one, they did not call. And thus she learned a maiden’s rule: Men are fickle. Men are cruel. Lest you be put up on a shelf, keep parts of you safe in your self. To keep him interested in your stuff, Most of you is just enough.
If you want true love to be your fate, heed the advice I here relate: the subtle art of love’s debate requires words that resonate— that tease and lure and serve as bait— that charm as well as educate.
Many a lover learned too late that loneliness would be his fate because what he chose to relate in one fell swoop on a first date seemed only to exacerbate or even worse to detonate.
Suitors, weigh your words inside before you choose to rage or chide. To stroll love’s pathway, walk the walk. Take time to listen as well as talk. Your questions will win you more hearts than trying to display your smarts.
The greater part of conversation lies not within one’s recitation. Instead of gross bombacity, express your curiosity. Love plans require less machination. Just greet her words with fascination.
“Violets contain ionone, which short-circuits our sense of smell. The flower continues to exude its fragrance, but we lose the ability to smell it. Wait a minute or two, and its smell will blare again. Then it will fade again, and so on.” — Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses
“Violets” jdb photo 2017
Saying It with Flowers
A lovely gesture, the violets—
but their scent vanished
before you walked out the door.
“It will come back,” you promised.
And so it did, that sweet aroma,
radiating from the deep heart of the flowers
for brief moments before
coming and going with a greater regularity
than your coming and your going.
“There is a scientific cause for this,” you noted, ” The fragrance is still there,
but we just lose our ability to smell it. It will come back again.” And you were right. I could count upon it’s reappearance— the mystery of its coming and its going solved, unlike your final exit or why, when I requested forget me nots, violets are what you gave.
A hand releases mooring lines and I go floating free.
Unmoored and unamóred, I float upon the sea.
Each time I find a tether, it lets loose of me,
for nature seems to be at odds with propinquity.
Nothing lasts forever or even long enough.
Each time the tattered sleeve of time shakes me off its cuff,
I am again amazed that the rules won’t change for me.
Each time I am newly surprised by mortality.
So many friends and lovers, so many family members
who once were bonfires in my life, flicker down to embers
then fade to ashes in a jar sitting on a shelf.
and once again my tether becomes only my self.
It is a cruel truth of life, this ephemerality
that severs every hawser as ones we love go free.
No matter what allegiance, what solidarity
is promised, still the vow that lasts is mutability.
In them, I talk about his eyes. What they say to me across the room. His foot against my foot under the table. The rush of air as he walks by. His body’s honest odor. I can’t pull away, he can’t look away. And yet we do what is necessary.
When I write what I really want to say, I stuff the pages in my shoes. Limp over them. Dance over them, too. Let other gentle men dance me over songs of him.
I’ve folded him a paper mouth to house his tongue. I want my words on his palate where he can taste them salty fragrant cheeks gums tongue.
I want his tongue to press my words against my cheek, tattoo them on my face where I can see them in the mirror.
Instead, I fold them into origami castles, set them on the sand, hope the wind and seagulls free them before beach squirrels shred them into their full cheeks and carry them to hidden burrows in the hillside.
The NaPoWriMo prompt today was to write a letter in the form of a poem. This poem is about love letters.