When Love

when love floods a person
            it cuts
a canyon

that deepens year after year
            carrying silt
away leaving

the essential person
letting everyone see

the layers of yellow
            sandstone, red basalt
grey granite

when love washes over a person
                        it washes
the person away


Copyright © 2021 by Alicia Ostriker. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 5, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I have been fascinated for a long time with the parallels between geology and the human personality. Like the earth, we have layers deposited by our experiences. Sometimes we explode like a volcano, and sometimes our experiences can be washed away by strong emotion, leaving something more basic behind. Often I have wanted to feel my ego being washed away by love.”
Alicia Ostriker