I saw you first in jonquil time,
When you were bathed in grace.
You sat aglow with fire sublime,
And golden shone your face.
I loved you first in lilac time.
A bloom I plucked for you.
I wrote you verse with song and rhyme.
I hoped you loved me too.
I kissed you first in tulip time,
It must have been a sign.
The buds and we were in our prime
When your two lips met mine.
I married you in daisy time
On summer’s longest day.
We traded rings and heard bells chime.
We pledged always to stay.
Too soon we’ve come to aster time.
The days are shorter now.
Would stealing some be such a crime?
We’ll make it right somehow.
Should we endure ’til wintertime,
The time when flowers sleep,
Dreams we’ll share of a gentler clime
Where we no more shall weep.
Notes: A bit of controversy arose when I last posted this poem. The object of this verse pointed out to me that tulip time generally comes before lilac time, and thus the poem was out of chronological order.
My appeal to poetic license did not, I feel, fully satisfy her. But I have resisted the pressure to revise the poem to make it more consistent to botanical facts. That’s because my recollection of the events of so many years ago was that I was completely and hopelessly in love before the first kiss.
Sometimes we should not allow the facts to get in the way of a good story.
And I did stop by the roadside and pick some lilacs for our first date.
When May bursts forth all moisture and mirth,
And birds bestir while you are still abed,
With everything bent on fostering birth,
And balmy blossoms like a banquet spread
Call to the wanderer weary and wan,
“Close your eyes and breathe and remember nights
When you lay upon the redolent lawn,
And took your bashful taste of love’s delights.”
For though that time is but a glimmer now,
And keenness of the night is now subdued,
A fragrant echo still awakes somehow,
And stirs again a near forgotten mood.
One kiss with wonder could the world endow.
In one embrace you found all you pursued.
NOTES: The month of May is my personal favorite. My birthday is in May, but even more important, I have a lot of pleasant memories of past Mays.
So brace yourself for an onslaught of slightly sentimental love poems.
Tell me the photograph I lately spied
While idly searching round the internet,
One of a greying woman and a bride,
A common scene of longing and regret,
She’s fussing with the buttons and the dress,
Just doing what brides’ mothers often do
To stall the creeping sense of uselessness …
Please tell me that this woman isn’t you.
Her eyes are heavy-lidded widow’s eyes,
Not wide and worshipful how I recall.
Her weary face with sorrow etched likewise,
Not fresh and freckled tempting me to fall.
Her lips so tightly clenched that I surmise
These can’t be lips that once held me in thrall.
Notes: Not that I need any more reminders, but time is moving on. I — and those I have known and loved and lost — are getting older. And life is not always kind.
When I came to his poem “Touch Me,” I had to pause. This poem seemed to be hitting some of same notes. Much deeper, but with little glimpses of the same melody.
The two poems are very different on the surface — mine is a sonnet, his is free verse. He makes different observations about nature.
But the season is the same — late summer. And there is something similar in the underlying emotion. Here’s his poem:
Touch Me –Stanley Kunitz
Summer is late, my heart. Words plucked out of the air
some forty years ago
when I was wild with love
and torn almost in two
scatter like leaves this night
of whistling wind and rain.
It is my heart that’s late,
it is my song that’s flown.
Outdoors all afternoon
under a gunmetal sky
staking my garden down,
I kneeled to the crickets trilling
underfoot as if about
to burst from their crusty shells;
and like a child again
marveled to hear so clear
and brave a music pour
from such a small machine.
What makes the engine go?
Desire, desire, desire.
The longing for the dance
stirs in the buried life.
One season only, ++++++++++++++ and it’s done.
So let the battered old willow
thrash against the windowpanes
and the house timbers creak.
Darling, do you remember
the man you married? Touch me,
remind me who I am.
The old hometown is aging, as am I,
The once wide streets grow narrow with the years,
As night descends, you all but hear a sigh,
For what once was has gone, and twilight nears.
Now friends and kinsmen number fewer, too,
And memories fade like the painted sign
Proclaiming that the city “Welcomes You!”
Strange how one’s soul and place so intertwine.
Life used to bustle round our stately square
‘Til commerce shifted to the edge of town.
The grand facades are now much worse for wear,
Some landmarks have been torn completely down.
The business of my life took me elsewhere,
Cracks grew in walkways of both man and town.
Thomas Wolfe wrote “You Can’t Go Home Again,” but last year I made a couple of trips back to my childhood hometown. My high school class held a reunion, and there was the lingering matter of tidying up my late parents’ estate, which seemed like it would never get resolved.
I thoroughly enjoyed seeing my old classmates, and re-igniting long dormant memories. But, not all my classmates are doing well. Not all of them made it back. Not all are still alive.
The visits led to reflection, and that led to poetry.
Late summer’s sun has baked the grass to brown.
The days grow shorter with each passing day,
Soon, autumn’s chill will make the leaves fall down.
All of this aching beauty will decay.
And yet I love the shadows’ slanting trace,
The once green grain gone golden in its rows,
And how I love the lines etched in your face.
It’s funny, as love ripens how it grows.
The number of our days we do not know.
No sleeper knows if he will ever wake.
So come, let’s join above, between, below.
My dear, let’s cause our fragile clay to quake.
Let us make love as if it’s our last go.
Let us embrace like dawn will never break.
It’s that time again to haul this old one out of the vault.
Among other things, God was the first poet. The world is full of rhyme and rhythm, image and metaphor.
In our own small, imperfect way, we just catch glimpses.
The old hometown is aging, as am I. The once wide streets grow narrow with the years. As night descends, you all but hear a sigh, For what once was has gone, and twilight nears. Now, friends and kinsmen number fewer too, And memories fade like the painted sign Proclaiming that the city “welcomes you!” Strange how one’s soul and place so intertwine. Life used to bustle round our stately square ’Til commerce shifted to the edge of town. The grand facades are now much worse for wear. Some landmarks have been torn completely down. The business of my life took me elsewhere. Cracks grew in walkways of both man and town.