A Valentine That Can’t Be Sent

Your singular, my love. Rehearses its absence.

You see light, hear noise, feel the warmth of the sun. Do you connect it into “day”?

You move through shards and splinters. Toward.

You are no longer possible.

Because, my love. The night such a vast space. And you a bird in oblique flight.

I try to hold on. To moments still ours. Even as they slip away.

Each word of yours, each gesture, gently. Once upon no more.

Do not fall again. Not even like an apple in autumn.

Because we say: we. We are each hour and each minute. Not altogether alone.

I have looked deep in the eyes of men and women. And feared that lastly. We make no contact.

And yet. The space between.

Can fill with love.

I no longer know what to think. About death. Which stands ready.

About you. A hunger hallucinating outward. From the ruins of memory.

Because yes, you. Still make my heart beat.

Irregularly. Like yours.


Copyright © 2023 by Rosmarie Waldrop. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 30, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets. 

About this Poem

“This poem started with three lines by the French poet Marie-Louise Chapelle. Translated word for word, those lines go: ‘because says we / no longer are / alone to.’ The lines jumped out at me because the ‘we’ tumbles from object into subject, which is a device I like and have used often. But, working on this poem, what took over is, rather, the ambiguity of absence and presence in a person with dementia.”
Rosmarie Waldrop