How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

This poem is in the public domain.

Hold fast to dreams 
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

From The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes published by Alfred A. Knopf/Vintage. Copyright © 1994 by the Estate of Langston Hughes. Reprinted by permission of Harold Ober Associates Incorporated. All rights reserved.

I, heiress of red embers
the fiercest of which burn the uncareful hand

See my one great grandmother what
had the misfortune of disciplining her husband

who thought he could come upside her
head about something or other.

Without missing a beat, she, damn physics,
wield a cast iron pot against his head.

This same short, blunt arm would nurse
twelve children, the youngest only two years 

before her own death. She willed nothing
but her blood. Stout bodied women

with heavy wants and hands, hearts overripe
and prone to leaking. Mama on my grandmother’s side

held a shotgun aimed to the head of any white man 
come up the road. Papa would greet him with one of his own 

just as unfriendly and kind under her sharp shooting eye.
I’ve never held a loaded gun, too afraid I might

turn it on myself. They had Jesus and a wood
burning stove. What do I know about protecting

any body particularly my own? Things inherited,
things learnt, may singed palms pitch to know.

Copyright © 2021 by Bettina Judd. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 5, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.