What We Make of It

Each time we love, we die a little,
each time we die, we love a little
more, but too late. 

The first time
I careered through
with the naivety of a clam,
hardly noticed
the breath as it was given to me
and then withdrawn,
all in a rush.
I took and was taken
with something like desire,
but we had to hunt then,
even songsters like me
had blood and raw flesh under our nails
and between our teeth.

The second and third
were short,
poisoned by diseased milk,
by bad water. 

But I remember, ah I remember
the fourth time,
for then I learnt to love.
To give that part of myself that matters,
to be warmed, consoled
in arms that only cared.
I would have stayed there for ever,
but eternity lasts neither in love nor hate,
and you passed from me.
So I learnt to live without life,
perishing before dying. 

The fifth and sixth were ended
by something like fear.
I was sacrificed
on a stake,
to the sword.
Yet despite this, there have been epochs
when I myself have been misguided
by anger or self-adoration
into breaking another
in two
for no more than the pleasure.
For it is easy to forget
the circumstances of one’s own death
when the birth pangs come anew.
Life seems whole, untarnished
and many an era I bit it
with a salivating jaw. 

Love never came again as it had once.
The ardour that had given me youth
had left me older
than glacier scarred rock.
Still on occasion love would blossom
like some Alpine sedge
and melt through my aching bones. 

And yet, and yet
the breath comes back
and though I am ancient,
mouldered to my marrow,
there is a chance that I might recall
some instance of wisdom
and I will not hold it in my muffler,
as a goitre in my throat,
but speak it, yes speak it out.
In that moment
I am uplifted.

So it was this morning,
as I stood ironing.
Which means I know how good it feels. 

And that is also something like 



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