At the coffee shop you love,
white mugs heavy on the table
between us, young baristas—
spiky haired and impatient—
cannot imagine how two people
so old to them can feel so wanton,
coffee growing cold between us,
middle-aged bodies growing hot
under the other’s gaze. Even now,
apart, you send me songs so I may
listen to love from the golden throat
of a saxophone, piano keys playing
jazz across my soft belly.
How is it the tide of terror
has quit rising in me, or rises
and recedes as tides do, bringing
sea glass worked smooth
and lovely by the sheer fact
of time, bringing trash—
plastic mesh and old sneakers—
useless things now we might
bag up and remove, bringing
a lapping tongue of water up
over our toes as we hold hands
and walk along its edge—
carefully, gleefully, both.

Copyright © 2017 by Sarah Browning. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 22, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem
“New love is always terrifying, isn’t it? And perhaps especially so later in life, when we’ve had time to accumulate so much experience of heartache. ‘Praisesong’ was written very early in a romance and was inspired by a surprise spotting of the marvelous Ted Kooser poem ‘A Map of the World’ on the New York City subway, when I was there in April for less than twenty-four hours for the introduction of the first U.S. Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman at Gracie Mansion. The poem has these unforgettable lines: ‘But feeling is indelible, / and longing infinite …’ Yes … You can find poems on the subway and on the website of the MTA, which collaborates with the Poetry Society of America to bring poetry to the daily lives of New York’s commuters.”
—Sarah Browning