I Never Knew I Loved Dean Rader
Someday, I’ll love Dean Rader
the way the blue jay
loves the sparrow egg,
or perhaps the way the waves love the curve they give
themselves to when giving is no longer an option
like falling or dreaming
or even being on this earth,
in this body.
Someday I’ll love my body, itself a form of silence,
which is not the same as being quiet,
even though we are sentenced to this language with its strange letters,
their shapes like bowls, small sticks, the bellies of pregnant women,
as though everything spelled
must also be birthed and broken,
cracked open and spilled,
filled with the absence of what won’t do,
like waiting for the earth to tap out your name.
I never knew I loved my name,
can someone who has never believed his name love it?
Once on a train to Serbia a soldier woke me from a dream I still remember
and pointed a gun at my right shoulder.
I never knew
I loved my shoulder until I placed my son’s head there
our first night home from the hospital,
his chest lifting like an umbrella
in a storm. I don’t like comparing my son to an umbrella,
though he has known what it is to be folded,
to be wet and cold.
Someday I will love the cold,
not just as metaphor but as a means to clarity,
which is what I need this November night,
the moon swinging in its black noose over the city,
the entire world hooded,
lined up against a wall and waiting,
the way a reader waits,
for a poem to get where it’s going.
Someday I will love the poem,
the way I will love being afraid,
but this is not what I want to say.
It is something more like this:
the future is not what it used to be,
and even that is only part of it.
The other part has something to do with speculation,
like what awaits us when we remove the hood.
I never knew I loved blindness.
The punishment for sight is always forgiveness.
Someday I will love forgiveness,
but it is difficult to love what has not been earned.
My grandfather when he was tenderest would call me Dean Dean,
and I felt like a child
in the body of a boy who believed he had the ideas of a man.
Every morning after breakfast he and my grandmother
would throw leftover toast into the backyard for the birds.
I just remembered the birds and the bread.
I love them both.
Someday I will love more things,
and I will not think of death,
and even if I do I will not feel saddened by the end
of the person who wears my name,
even though it is always easy to mourn
*To read this poem in its intended format, please click here from your laptop or desktop.
Copyright © 2021 by Dean Rader. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 30, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.
About this Poem
“A couple of years ago, I was telling my students how much I love poems that talk to other poems. So, I showed them Frank O’Hara’s poem from 1953, entitled, ‘Katy,’ in which the line, ‘Some day I’ll love Frank O’Hara’ appears. I then showed them Roger Reeves’ excellent poem ‘Some Day I’ll Love Roger Reeves’ and Ocean Vuong’s equally excellent ‘Someday I’ll Love Ocean Vuong.’ This notion of speculative or future love made me think of a poem by the great Turkish poet, Nazim Hikmet, entitled ‘Things I Didn’t Know I Loved,’ which looks backward rather than forward. My poem is an homage to four great poets and poems and to the larger history (and future) of poetry’s inclusive and celebratory function.”
Dean Rader is the author of Self-Portrait as a Wikipedia Entry (Copper Canyon Press, 2017) and Suture (Black Lawrence Press, 2017), collaborative sonnets written with Simone Muench. He teaches at the University of San Francisco, and lives in San Francisco
Date Published: 2021-04-30
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/i-never-knew-i-loved-dean-rader