love after love

In the thick of the e.k. pain in May, Biju sent me Walcott’s ‘Love After Love.’ I promptly stuck it to my refrigerator, which doesn’t often get such paraphernalia. In fact, the fridge is naked but for a small framed photo of lyabi haus, the same photo that tops the blog menu at right. And now ‘Love After Love,’ pasted up just by the freezer door handle.

Love After Love
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here, Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine, Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

I said it over and over until I knew it well. I passed it on to a number of friends. I took solace in the fact that Biju knew this pain too, and had recovered. Then in June, at the Jon Kabat-Zinn retreat upstate, on, let’s see, day 4, he announced he was to read a poem by a Saint Lucian poet. “Oh man, he isn’t,” I thought, but of course, he was. He recited “Love After Love,” which I’d never heard but a few weeks previous. I might have, had I read much of JKZ’s stuff, as he’s put it in some of his books, and even titled one Arriving at Your Own Door. That was a lovely week, a lovely retreat.

Heesun and husband return tonight. It’s good timing, as I’ve had their space to myself for some time and am feeling less hermit-like. It’s been a lovely, slightly strange week.


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