Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

Yay, erotic love. I get it, you know? But. The Greeks had three words denoting "love" for a reason: it's a complex (of) passion(s); to have one word for it makes it deceptively easy to talk about or, for that matter, to declare dead . . . when maybe, just maybe, it's still performing its work between the two parties; below the ashes, an ember.

In that spirit, I wanted to link to and pass on a couple of things that speak to love's less-obvious manifestations.

Over at In Medias Res, fellow Wichitan Russell Arben Fox, also in a cribbing mood, re-posts something from Rob Dreher and speaks eloquently for himself of the pleasures of the ordinary in marriage.

And finally, this poem by Tony Hoagland, via this morning's Writer's Almanac:


She goes out to hang the windchime
in her nightie and her work boots.
It's six-thirty in the morning
and she's standing on the plastic ice chest
tiptoe to reach the crossbeam of the porch,

windchime in her left hand,
hammer in her right, the nail
gripped tight between her teeth
but nothing happens next because
she's trying to figure out
how to switch #1 with #3.

She must have been standing in the kitchen,
coffee in her hand, asleep,
when she heard it—the wind blowing
through the sound the windchime
wasn't making
because it wasn't there.

No one, including me, especially anymore believes
till death do us part,
but I can see what I would miss in leaving—
the way her ankles go into the work boots
as she stands on the ice chest;
the problem scrunched into her forehead;
the little kissable mouth
with the nail in it.


Russell Arben Fox said...

What a great poem, John; thank you! I try to catch "Writer's Almanac" every morning, but I missed it today. Thank you for the link, and for writing (well, letting Tony Hoagland write) my Valentine's Day card to my wife for me.

Ariel said...

That is a great poem. Thanks, John! I may have to try and work it into the lineup today sometime.

Pam said...

I saw that poem on Writer's Almanac yesterday, and thought what a sweet one. Sort of perfect, really, isn't it?

John B. said...

Thanks to all of you for stopping by.

This is the third Hoagland poem Keillor has read in, give or take, the past month. They've all been from the volume What Narcissism Means to Me--a book worth owning for the title alone, I'd say. But the poems are pretty good, too. You are right, Pam: "Sort of perfect" is itself sort of perfect for this poem: he's not trying for anything big, but what he does try for he gets just right.

And gentlemen: I'm glad to be of help.

Cordelia said...

I like the poem, too, but take issue with the "Greek has three words for love" bit that seems to be going around the internet. Classical Greek had at least six: the big three, which the internet quote seems to refer to (since I can't get accents to work, all final o's are omegas here): erao (erotic love), phileo (love or affection among friends and family) and agapao (generally, fondness, though by the NT, all-embracing and altruistic love for others). There is also stergo (to be fond), potheo (to be desirous) and epithumeo (in Homer, lilaiomai: to long for). These are the major terms that I can think of off the bat. There are synonyms and variations, but these are the standouts. Might as well add my two cents here.