Monday, February 14, 2011

Love Train

Happy Valentine's Day!

Here's a big heavy heart.

A couple of things to share with you today:

1) A Visit from St. Valentine for those who resist all pink & red sentimentality

2) The lovely blog of Susan Rich, who always shares the love.

She's the author of The Alchemist's Kitchen, a book of poems with this green and lavender glow (though the cover has more of a matte sheen than a glossy glow in real life).

And I've been waiting to feature this book today because of this poem, "At Middle-Life: A Romance," for any of you who might be waiting for or right now experiencing a romance at middle life.

It's like a train!

So here are her couplets, in italics, followed my responses, in regular font.  I do love couplets in a love poem.

Let love be imminent and let it be a train;
let it arrive at dawn, its whistle whiskering the air--

all brightness and verb.  Let it nearly race by

but not quite--this could be the story of your life.

You can hear and see the speed of this train, partly thanks to those dashes.  And the "whistle whiskering" sound is something to say out loud.  Try it!  It also creates the hiss of wheels, the train pausing for us.  The urgency here is powerful, life-changing, and the poet has rapidly put us on the train and created suspense.

Don't hesitate outside the dining car of eccentric
and dark-eyed strangers, contemplating their espresso--

ordering half the nerve. Let love be a breakfast
of creme cakes, pomegranate juice, a lively Spanish torte.

We do get to hesitate outside the dining car on this rumbling train, peering in at the exotic possibilities, maybe at tables with white tablecloths, as on older luxury trains, or in movies.  We don't want to be "ordering half the nerve," do we?  We want the full, lush breakfast!

Love ambles its way through post-industrial towns,
past fields of alfalfa blooms, past poplars

that have always been there, though you've never
sensed their sacredness before. Let love be amazing.

Now that we're aboard the love train, love can take its own sweet time.  We can be happy with the scenery.  And look at how we get to see the poplars, suspended at the end of a line, the ones "that have always been there," but that we've never really noticed, for themselves or for their sacredness, a surprise that love can bring, and that makes the poem's claim different from "a silly love song" on the radio.  (Though John Lennon and Paul McCartney also worked that out.)  Love is amazing.

And when the next station appears in full view--
all green tones and jazz tunes;

let two of these travelers disembark--
primed to begin their nights in pursuit.

Well, that's a happy ending!  But we do have to remember that it has all been imagined, and hoped for, and brought on with the word "Let," which is both plea, as in, "Let it be me," and command, as in, "Let there be light."  What an amazing balance and suspension.

There are many other amazements in The Alchemists's Kitchen that I'll let you discover on your own!

6 comments:

nene said...

Thanks Kathleen. leave it up to you to intruduce us to a 'lightness in life'. It is a wonderful, adult playfulness, rendition of a love poem that takes us on the right 'track'. This, on a day fabricated, initially, by commerciallism yet for some a momentary reason to expose love's vulnerability, if only feigned.

Maureen said...

Susan's a wonderful poet (I've read her book several times) and her blog always is a good read. Great feature. I enjoyed your commentary on the poem, too.

Kathleen said...

Oh, and the heart is heavy because it's a paperweight.

Susan said...

Every time I read your blog I want to buy more books!

Kathleen said...

And what could be better than a book with a kitchen on it?!

Kathleen said...

(I left out the word "by" in one of my sentences above, but your brain probably supplied it. I just got the darn spacing right in this entry, and don't want to edit again!!)