My friend Michael and I are walking home arguing about the movie. He says that he believes a person can love someone and still be able to murder that person. I say, No, that's not love. That's attachment. Michael says, No, that's love. You can love someone, then come to a day when you're forced to think "it's him or me" think "me" and kill him. I say, Then it's not love anymore. Michael says, It was love up to then though. I say, Maybe we mean different things by the same word. Michael says, Humans are complicated: love can exist even in the murderous heart. I say that what he might mean by love is desire. Love is not a feeling, I say. And Michael says, Then what is it? We're walking along West 16th Street—a clear unclouded night—and I hear my voice repeating what I used to say to my husband: Love is action, I used to say to him. Simone Weil says that when you really love you are able to look at someone you want to eat and not eat them. Janis Joplin says, take another little piece of my heart now baby. Meister Eckhardt says that as long as we love images we are doomed to live in purgatory. Michael and I stand on the corner of 6th Avenue saying goodnight. I can't drink enough of the tangerine spritzer I've just bought— again and again I bring the cold can to my mouth and suck the stuff from the hole the flip top made. What are you doing tomorrow? Michael says. But what I think he's saying is "You are too strict. You are a nun." Then I think, Do I love Michael enough to allow him to think these things of me even if he's not thinking them? Above Manhattan, the moon wanes, and the sky turns clearer and colder. Although the days, after the solstice, have started to lengthen, we both know the winter has only begun.
One day the patterned carpet, the folding chairs,
the woman in the blue suit by the door examining her split ends,
all of it will go on without me. I’ll have disappeared,
as easily as a coin under lake water, and few to notice the difference
—a coin dropping into the darkening—
and West 4th Street, the sesame noodles that taste like too much peanut butter
lowered into the small white paper carton—all of it will go on and on—
and the I that caused me so much trouble? Nowhere
or grit thrown into the garden
or into the sticky bodies of several worms,
or just gone, stopped—like the Middle Ages,
like the coin Whitman carried in his pocket all the way to that basement
bar on Broadway that isn’t there anymore.
Oh to be in Whitman’s pocket, on a cold winter day,
to feel his large warm hand slide in and out, and in again.
To be taken hold of by Walt Whitman! To be exchanged!
To be spent for something somebody wanted and drank and found delicious.