Looking for Love
The Story of the Seahorse and the Wave
Always he’d been there, at home in the ocean,
anchored to the sea grass by his tail,
but his thoughts kept drifting ’til one day he let go
and was carried away by Beauty.
He didn’t know she’d been wanting him,
approaching in the shape of a wave,
and now he was spinning with her inland
over fields, up foothills, a mile beyond the shoreline.
The sky above was like new blue water,
and the trees all around a new reef,
and his body grew
to fit the sudden size of his heart—
full of loss
as he saw her receding. . . .
He waited on a lookout rock,
but she didn’t return.
To be at home in this strange terrain he’d need legs,
hard hooves, and the wind’s own balance,
and so he became the first horse
and galloped away.
The Years my Heart was an Aquarium
Say, sixty gallons, glass edged with silicone,
a pump, some gravel colored like confetti.
We fill it first with fresh water, test the Ph,
get silver tip tetras and red cap orandas,
lyretail guppies and gold gouramis.
Buy a neon blue castle, lace java ferns
and a treasure chest that can’t stay shut
but bubbles open. Read books on algae
but forget to find a sucker fish. Overfeed
the guppies and let the tetras over-produce,
eat their own young. Forget to change
the filter, forget the cover, hire a friend
to dump it all out, bleach it, start over.
We fill it with salt water, read the hydrometer
and adjust the temperature to a balmy
eighty degrees. Plant mermaid’s hair
and mermaid’s fan and add a feather duster
with an orange crown to keep everything clean.
Find a red finger gorgonian and a fake ship
wrecked on coral. Stick to the fish who sport
the funniest names: bicolor dottybacks and
the midas blenny, the scissortail dartfish
and the sleeper banded goby. They will
swim and be tickled by the plants we offer,
hide in the wreck and eat the brine shrimp
we drop into the water. All will be well until
the goby leaps from the tank and is swallowed
by the dog, the dottybacks bully the blennies
to death, and the dartfish get lodged in the clear
tube that pumps water, poisoning the duster.
Empty and clean the tank again. Line the bottom
with woodchips and add a waterbottle and pink
igloo. Buy a guinea pig. Name it Eel. Hope
that this plan works better than the others. Know
that at least this time, it’s dry and pellets are cheap.
You take me
like a boat
takes itself out
& recovers its calm
almost in an hour
The Art of Un-Conscious Loving,
After an ad in Yellow Silk
– a Lifetime with EB
Believe in an art
of un-conscious loving
in yellow silk so silent, so soft
that no thing matters…
an art so conscious of un-loving
that … (no that can’t be)
Believe in a loving
so un-silent that
no soft art matters
Believe in a thing
in a distance
in a soft silent way
Believe that no one art masters
no one loving matters
that there is a thing
so silent… an art so loving
no one matters
Believe that art no one masters
Close your eyes, you order, hands behind
your back: propped up late in bed reading,
I obey: my mouth opens
to ice cream, Chambord, domination
of strawberry. Then my eyes open
to you, the overflowing spoon held above
a bowl where slices float like pods
in a cool, fermenting pond. So heady,
at the end of a day that began with burnt
toast and jam, an old jar of pulp clouding
the kitchen table, the taste
of our words lingering in charred
silence. And then we went
our separate ways into the muddle
outside: stacked on my desk, half-truths
disguised as the morning news, plain
talk smeared by winks and irony—
you know, love, that read-between-the-lines
mishmash. But I’m back home,
where there’s no mistaking your gaze
and my own drowsy contentment.
I could end this now with similes:
dissect the fruit to discover hearts,
cross-sections of trees, and poppies. Instead,
I’ll close my eyes on today
with the sweet, simple truth
of these berries, ripe
just with the meaning of themselves.
[first published in Passages North]
After Thirty Years
So then, the old telling of stories:
birds migrating across rushes,
fledglings nested in forsythia.
So then, the old wringing of hands:
wooden bridge missing three slats,
glaciers breaking into fjords.
So many reasons for not believing,
rocket fire webbing the sky in places
whose names the news cannot pronounce.
So our story is the best story
and look, there are tracers
scribing our names in the dark.
We hope you enjoyed these love poems as we begin February here at EIL, looking for love! Click on each poet’s name above to find his or her solo poetry feature, and look for more valentines next week at Escape Into Life, too! Find more art by Adrian Waggoner and more love poems by clicking the links below.
Past Valentine features at EIL: