You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
More and more I found myself at a loss for words and didn’t want to hear other people talking either. Their conversations seemed false and empty. I preferred to look at the sea, which said nothing and never made you feel alone.
When you are six you think love is a fairy tale, a lie of domesticity.
Your mother is empty and your father is noise and you’re climbing into a car that is too big for you.
At least this time you have your shoes.
(you try to forget your father’s eyes when he sees you grab them instead of saying good bye. you hope you’re not coming back)
at fifteen love is a chemical rush that you fan quietly and quickly. You know you should stop kissing strangers in parking lots. You still keep kissing strangers in parking lots.
at seventeen love is a steel ball around your anklet, ties around your wrists. You’re wrapped around her fingers and you’ve forgotten how to breathe.
at nineteen he tries to break your throat and you’re so tired you let him.
at twenty love is a game of cat’s cradle with two arthritic hands. there is no rush, no steady joy, only desperation and quiet and that little humming between your lungs that you try to ignore when your feet get restless.
You’re twenty one and you still don’t believe in love.
(he still takes your shoes away)