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About this Poem 

“I should have called this poem, ‘How to Trust Again.’ How does one stay open and believe in love after a betrayal? It’s a meditation on hope, really. Also, any poem I can fit my name into is a good one.”

—January Gill O’Neil

How to Love

January Gill O'Neil
After stepping into the world again,
there is that question of how to love, 
how to bundle yourself against the frosted morning—
the crunch of icy grass underfoot, the scrape 
of cold wipers along the windshield—
and convert time into distance. 
 
What song to sing down an empty road
as you begin your morning commute?
And is there enough in you to see, really see, 
the three wild turkeys crossing the street 
with their featherless heads and stilt-like legs
in search of a morning meal? Nothing to do 
but hunker down, wait for them to safely cross. 
 
As they amble away, you wonder if they want 
to be startled back into this world. Maybe you do, too, 
waiting for all this to give way to love itself, 
to look into the eyes of another and feel something— 
the pleasure of a new lover in the unbroken night, 
your wings folded around him, on the other side 
of this ragged January, as if a long sleep has ended.

Copyright @ 2014 by January Gill O'Neil. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on July 25, 2014.

Copyright @ 2014 by January Gill O'Neil. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on July 25, 2014.

January Gill O'Neil

January Gill O'Neil is the author of Underlife (CavanKerry Press, 2009). She is executive director of the Massachusetts Poetry Festival and teaches at Salem State University in Salem, Massachusetts.

by this poet

poem
I remember picking up a fistful 
of sand, smooth crystals, like hourglass sand 
and throwing it into the eyes of a boy. Johnny
or Danny or Kevin—he was not important. 
I was five and I knew he would cry.

I remember everything about it—
the sandbox in the corner of the room
at Cinderella Day Care; Ms. Lee