For C

After the clash of elevator gates

And the long sinking, she emerges where,

A slight thing in the morning’s crosstown glare,

She looks up toward the window where he waits,

Then in a fleeting taxi joins the rest

Of the huge traffic bound forever west.

 

On such grand scale do lovers say good-bye—

Even this other pair whose high romance

Had only the duration of a dance,

And who, now taking leave with stricken eye,

See each in each a whole new life forgone.

For them, above the darkling clubhouse lawn,

 

Bright Perseids flash and crumble; while for these

Who part now on the dock, weighed down by grief

And baggage, yet with something like relief,

It takes three thousand miles of knitting seas

To cancel out their crossing, and unmake

The amorous rough and tumble of their wake.

 

We are denied, my love, their fine tristesse

And bittersweet regrets, and cannot share

The frequent vistas of their large despair,

Where love and all are swept to nothingness;

Still, there’s a certain scope in that long love

Which constant spirits are the keepers of,

 

And which, though taken to be tame and staid,

Is a wild sostenuto of the heart,

A passion joined to courtesy and art

Which has the quality of something made,

Like a good fiddle, like the rose’s scent,

Like a rose window or the firmament.

 

Richard Wilbur

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Words, Wide Night

Somewhere on the other side of this wide night
and the distance between us, I am thinking of you.
The room is turning slowly away from the moon.

This is pleasurable. Or shall I cross that out and say
it is sad? In one of the tenses I singing
an impossible song of desire that you cannot hear.

La lala la. See? I close my eyes and imagine the dark hills
I would have to cross
to reach you. For I am in love with you

and this is what it is like or what it is like in words.

 

Carol Ann Duffy

The Orange

At lunchtime I bought a huge orange

The size of it made us all laugh.

I peeled it and shared it with Robert and Dave—

They got quarters and I had a half.

 

And that orange it made me so happy,

As ordinary things often do

Just lately. The shopping. A walk in the park

This is peace and contentment. It’s new.

 

The rest of the day was quite easy.

I did all my jobs on my list

And enjoyed them and had some time over.

I love you. I’m glad I exist.


Wendy Cope