I would have each couple turn,
join and unjoin, be lost
in the greater turning
of other couples, woven
in the circle of a dance,
the song of long time flowing
over them, so they may return,
turn again in to themselves
out of desire greater than their own,
belonging to all, to each,
to the dance, and to the song
that moves them through the night.
What is fidelity? To what
does it hold? The point
of departure, or the turning road
that is departure and absence
and the way home? What we are
and what we were once
are far estranged. For those
who would not change, time
is infidelity. But we are married
until death, and are betrothed
to change. By silence, so,
I learn my song. I earn
my sunny fields by absence, once
and to come. And I love you
as I love the dance that brings you
out of the multitude
in which you come and go.
Love changes, and in change is true.
Copyright © 2012 by Wendell Berry, from New Collected Poems. Reprinted by permission of Counterpoint.
Marriage is not
a house or even a tent
it is before that, and colder:
the edge of the forest, the edge
of the desert
the unpainted stairs
at the back where we squat
outside, eating popcorn
the edge of the receding glacier
where painfully and with wonder
at having survived even
we are learning to make fire
“Habitation” excerpted from Selected Poems 1965–1975 by Margaret Atwood. Copyright © 1987 by Margaret Atwood. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.
Today when persimmons ripen
Today when fox-kits come out of their den into snow
Today when the spotted egg releases its wren song
Today when the maple sets down its red leaves
Today when windows keep their promise to open
Today when fire keeps its promise to warm
Today when someone you love has died
or someone you never met has died
Today when someone you love has been born
or someone you will not meet has been born
Today when rain leaps to the waiting of roots in their dryness
Today when starlight bends to the roofs of the hungry and tired
Today when someone sits long inside his last sorrow
Today when someone steps into the heat of her first embrace
Today, let this light bless you
With these friends let it bless you
With snow-scent and lavender bless you
Let the vow of this day keep itself wildly and wholly
Spoken and silent, surprise you inside your ears
Sleeping and waking, unfold itself inside your eyes
Let its fierceness and tenderness hold you
Let its vastness be undisguised in all your days
Originally published in Come, Thief (Knopf, 2011); all rights reserved. Copyright © by Jane Hirshfield. Reprinted with the permission of the author, all rights reserved.
What was unforeseen is now a bird orbiting this field.
What wasn’t a possibility is present in our arms.
It shall be and it begins with you.
Our often-misunderstood kind of love deems dangerous.
How it frightens and confounds and enrages.
How strange, unfamiliar.
Our love carries all those and the contrary.
It is most incandescent.
So, I vow to be brave.
Clear a path through jungles of shame and doubt and fear.
I’m done with silence. I proclaim.
It shall be and it sings from within.
Truly we are enraptured
With Whitmanesque urge and urgency.
I vow to love in all seasons.
When you’re summer, I’m watermelon balled up in a sky-blue bowl.
When I’m autumn, you’re foliage ablaze in New England.
When in winter, I am the tender scarf of warm mercies.
When in spring, you are the bourgeoning buds.
I vow to love you in all places.
High plains, prairies, hills and lowlands.
In our dream-laden bed,
Cradled in the nest
Of your neck.
Deep in the plum.
It shall be and it flows with you.
We’ll leap over the waters and barbaric rooftops.
You embrace my resilient metropolis.
I adore your nourishing wilderness.
I vow to love you in primal ways.
I vow to love you in infinite forms.
In our separateness and composites.
To dust and stars and the ever after.
Intrepid travelers, lovers, and family
We have arrived.
Look. The bird has come home to roost.
From Threshold (CavanKerry Press, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Joseph O. Legaspi. Used with the permission of the author.