Marriage is not
a house or even a tent
it is before that, and colder:
the edge of the forest, the edge
of the desert
the unpainted stairs
at the back where we squat
outside, eating popcorn
the edge of the receding glacier
where painfully and with wonder
at having survived even
we are learning to make fire
I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as one loves certain obscure things,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom but carries
the light of those flowers, hidden, within itself,
and thanks to your love the tight aroma that arose
from the earth lives dimly in my body.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you directly without problems or pride:
I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love,
except in this form in which I am not nor are you,
so close that your hand upon my chest is mine,
so close that your eyes close with my dreams.
I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair.
Silent and starving, I prowl through the streets.
Bread does not nourish me, dawn disrupts me, all day
I hunt for the liquid measure of your steps.
I hunger for your sleek laugh,
your hands the color of a savage harvest,
hunger for the pale stones of your fingernails,
I want to eat your skin like a whole almond.
I want to eat the sunbeam flaring in your lovely body,
the sovereign nose of your arrogant face,
I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes,
and I pace around hungry, sniffing the twilight,
hunting for you, for your hot heart,
Like a puma in the barrens of Quitratue.
― Pablo Neruda
Always where you are
In what I do
Turning you hold your arms
My touch lies where you turn
Your look is in my eyes
Turning to clasp your arms
You hold my touch in you
Touching to clasp in you
The one shape of our look
I hold your face to me
Always where you are
My touch to love you looks into your eyes
- Harold Pinter
"Tell me that you have been dreaming of me. That you wake up in cold sweats, gulping in air. You feel like you’ve drowned. You wake up and still feel like you’re drowning.
Tell me that you’ve spent a great deal of time gazing at stars, thinking that sometimes things look better farther apart. That constellations are only beautiful because we have the space to connect the dots.
Now take it back. Tell me that you’re sorry. That you know we’re not stars. We’re just people. Tell me that you know there’s nothing poetic about plane tickets. Tell me that you want to buy them anyway.
Ask me to stay."
— Ask Me To Stay, Trista Mateer
Pablo Neruda - If you forget me
1. It is one of the ironies of love that it is easiest confidently to seduce those who we are least attracted to. My feelings for Chloe meant I lost any belief in my own worthiness. Who could I be next to her? Was it not the greatest honour for her to have agreed to this dinner, to have dressed so elegantly (‘Is this alright?’ she’d asked in the car on the way to the restaurant, ‘it had better be, because I’m not changing a sixth time’), let alone that she might be willing to respond kindly to some of the things that might fall (if ever I recovered my tongue) from my unworthy lips?
2. It was Friday night and Chloe and I were seated at a corner table of Les Liaisons Dangereuses, a French restaurant that had recently opened at the end of the Fulham road. There could have been no more appropriate setting for Chloe’s beauty. The chandeliers threw soft shadows across her face, the light green walls matched her light green eyes. And yet, as though struck dumb by the angel that faced me across the table, I lost all capacity either to think or speak and could only silently draw invisible patterns on the starched white table-cloth and take unnecessary sips of bubbled water from a large glass goblet.
3. My sense of inferiority bred a need to take on a personality that was not my own, a seducing self that would respond to every demand and suggestion made by my exalted companion. Love forced me to look at myself as though through Chloe’s imagined eyes. ‘Who could I become to please her?’ I wondered. I did not tell flagrant lies, I simply attempted to anticipate everything I believed she might want to hear.
‘Would you like some wine?’ I asked her.
‘I don’t know, would you like wine?’ she asked back.
‘I really don’t mind, if you feel like it,’ I replied.
‘It’s as you please, whatever you want,’ she continued.
‘Either way is fine with me’.
‘So should we have it or not?’
‘Well, I don’t think I’ll have any,’ ventured Chloe.
‘You’re right, I don’t feel like any either,’ I concurred.
‘Let’s not have wine then,’ she concluded.
‘Great, so we’ll just stick with the water’.
4. The first course arrived, arranged on plates with the symmetry of a formal French garden.
‘It looks too beautiful to touch,’ said Chloe (how I knew the feeling), ‘I’ve never eaten grilled scallops like this before’.
We began to eat, but the only sound was that of cutlery against china. There seemed to be nothing to say. Chloe had been my only thought for too long, but the one thought that at this moment I could not share with her.
Silence was damning. A silence with an unattractive person implies they are the boring one. A silence with an attractive one immediately renders it certain you are the tedious party.
5. Silence and clumsiness could of course be taken as rather pitiful proof of desire. It being easy enough to seduce someone towards whom one feels indifferent, the clumsiest seducers could generously be deemed the most genuine. Not to find the right words is paradoxically often the best proof that the right words are meant.
Alain de Botton - Essays in Love
To be loved by someone is to realize how much they share the same needs that lie at the heart of our own attraction to them. Albert Camus suggested that we fall in love with people because, from the outside, they look so whole, physically whole and emotionally 'together' - when subjectively we feel dispersed and confused. We would not love if there were no lack within us, but we are offended by the discovery of a similar lack in the other. Expecting to find the answer, we find only the duplicate of our own problem.
― Alain de Botton, On Love
Every fall into love involves the triumph of hope over self-knowledge. We fall in love hoping we won't find in another what we know is in ourselves, all the cowardice, weakness, laziness, dishonesty, compromise, and stupidity. We throw a cordon of love around the chosen one and decide that everything within it will somehow be free of our faults. We locate inside another a perfection that eludes us within ourselves, and through our union with the beloved hope to maintain (against the evidence of all self-knowledge) a precarious faith in our species.
Perhaps it is true that we do not really exist until there is someone there to see us existing, we cannot properly speak until there is someone who can understand what we are saying in essence, we are not wholly alive until we are loved.
― Alain de Botton, On Love
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 got 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 the jobs on my list
And enjoyed them and had some time over.
I love you. I'm glad I exist.