In one story, the lovers are two halves
split by jealous gods, and in another story,
the lovers are victims of a wicked baby
with a bow and arrow. In one story,
love means never touching, but exchanging
a lot of handkerchiefs, and in another story,
love means a drastic change in brain
chemistry that lasts a year, even though
the after effects are lifelong. In one story,
love is the north star guiding sailors,
and in one story love is a sharp blade,
a body of water, and a trophy all at once.
The truth is that love is nothing but itself,
an axiomatic property of humankind,
like storytelling and explanation giving,
which explains why everyone explains
love in stories, the way I once called it
a form of disappearing, and my favorite
philosopher called it a holiday. Listen,
storytelling animals: today, we say, love
is only love. Put down the crossbow, baby.
Put down the handkerchief, Lancelot.
Put away the easy chair, Babs. Let’s let love
be felt in its touch, and be known by its face.
Let’s let love speak Ada and Lucas,
and then let’s let love be silent.
Copyright © 2017 by Jason Schneiderman. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 21, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
Love comes quietly,
about me, on me,
in the old ways.
What did I know
able to go
alone all the way.
From For Love: Poems. Copyright © 1962 by Robert Creeley. Used with permission of the Estate of Robert Creeley and The Permissions Company.