The Monday Poem is brought to you by Professor Jim Gormley of the English Department. Enjoy!
Stories About Love / Wedding Poem for Ada & Lucas
In one story, the lovers are two halves
split by jealous gods, and in another story,
the lovers are victims of a wicked baby
with a bow and arrow. In one story,
love means never touching, but exchanging
a lot of handkerchiefs, and in another story,
love means a drastic change in brain
chemistry that lasts a year, even though
the after effects are lifelong. In one story,
love is the north star guiding sailors,
and in one story love is a sharp blade,
a body of water, and a trophy all at once.
The truth is that love is nothing but itself,
an axiomatic property of humankind,
like storytelling and explanation giving,
which explains why everyone explains
love in stories, the way I once called it
a form of disappearing, and my favorite
philosopher called it a holiday. Listen,
storytelling animals: today, we say, love
is only love. Put down the crossbow, baby.
Put down the handkerchief, Lancelot.
Put away the easy chair, Babs. Let’s let love
be felt in its touch, and be known by its face.
Let’s let love speak Ada and Lucas,
and then let’s let love be silent.
“This poem was written for the wedding of the poet Ada Limón and Lucas Marquardt. When Ada asked me to write a poem for the ceremony, I was both intimidated and honored. The first drafts were about what I know of love—because my poems usually start when there’s a truth I can’t tell in prose—but those drafts were all terribly flat. I started thinking about Plato’s Symposium on love, and how I love the story told by Aristophanes, even though it’s become a bit of a cliché. Marriage is an institution with a history, and as I began to think about the ways that love has been personified, explained, and understood, I realized I could put the particular and the universal in tension.”
Jason Schneiderman is the author of Primary Source (Red Hen Press, 2016). He teaches at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY.