There was a winter I was in love
like one lost in the desert loves a stranger—
it is wonder enough, in the vast and empty loneliness,
that any two paths should happen to cross at all—
and so I was in love, after a fashion,
with a beautiful nomad who joined me for a while
down chalk sidewalks and grocery store aisles,
but it was not in our nature to touch
nor to hold,
and in the end we parted,
and the parting proved no relief
from the loneliness of one another’s company.

And there was a summer I was in love
like a certain man loved his own face in a pool—
it stared back at him with a familiar gaze
concealing greater depths, or so he thought—
and for a time we went up to the heights
and down into the depths, and cried, and laughed,
and shared with one another many things.
But water trickles out of a closed hand
grasping at reflections, no matter how hard it clenches,
and the more I groped the more desperate I became
until one day before the blessed Presence
I begged to love according to the need
of my beloved—and not my own,
and in the end we parted,
and our parting was like the long
uncertain and interminable silence
after a thunderclap, before the rains.

And now there is a spring I am in love
like thirsty ground loves the storm and squall
and damp earth loves the sun—
and now I sit in Heaven every night at 9:00
and my heart grows like a sponge submerged in water,
your being, You!, filling full and overflowing
with a warmth and a tender loving
the vessel that is me.
For you made me for yourself, my heart
to disappear into the light of yours,
to stare into your eyes til dawn should break.

To love the other as they need me to love them:
to love you first, and then simply to let you
love them
in me:
not to lose myself in them
but side by side
to lose ourselves in you—what
sweet certainty, what
absolute mystery, what
music is this silence! what
heaven is this grace.


This is day 20 of LABIA MUNDA, a series of forty poems during the forty days of Lent. 

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