Love After Love
the time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
& each will smile at the other’s welcome,
& say, sit here. eat.
you will love again the stranger who was yourself.
give wine. give bread. give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
sit. feast on your life.
By Neil Gaiman
Touch the wooden gate in the wall you never saw before.
Say "please" before you open the latch,
walk down the path.
A red metal imp hangs from the
green-painted front door,
as a knocker,
do not touch it; it will bite your fingers.
Walk through the house. Take nothing. Eat nothing.
if any creature tells you that it hungers,
If it tells you that it is dirty,
If it cries to you that it hurts,
if you can, ease its pain.
From the back garden you will be able to see the wild wood.
The deep well you walk past leads to Winter's realm;
there is another land at the bottom of it.
If you turn around here,
you can walk back, safely;
you will lose no face. I will think no less of you.
Once through the garden you will be in the wood.
The trees are old. Eyes peer from the undergrowth.
Beneath a twisted oak sits an old woman.
She may ask for something;
give it to her. She
will point the way to the castle. Inside it
are three princesses.
Do not trust the youngest. Walk on.
In the clearing beyond the castle the
twelve months sit about a fire, warming their feet, exchanging tales.
They may do favors for you, if you are polite.
You may pick strawberries in December's frost.
Trust the wolves, but do not tell them
where you are going.
The river can be crossed by the ferry.
The ferryman will take you.
(The answer to his question is this:
If he hands the oar to his passenger, he
will be free to leave the boat.
Only tell him this from a safe distance.)
If an eagle gives you a feather, keep it safe.
Remember: that giants sleep too soundly; that
witches are often betrayed by their appetites;
dragons have one soft spot, somewhere, always;
hearts can be well-hidden,
and you betray them with your tongue.
Do not be jealous of your sister.
Know that diamonds and roses
are as uncomfortable when they tumble
from one's lips as toads and frogs:
colder, too, and sharper, and they cut.
Remember your name.
Do not lose hope — what you seek will be found.
Trust ghosts. Trust those that you have
helped to help you in their turn.
Trust your heart, and trust your story.
When you come back, return the way you came.
Favors will be returned, debts will be repaid.
Do not forget your manners.
Do not look back.
Ride the wise eagle (you shall not fall).
Ride the silver fish (you will not drown).
Ride the grey wolf (hold tightly to his fur).
There is a worm at the heart of the tower;
that is why it will not stand.
When you reach the little house, the
place your journey started,
you will recognize it, although it will seem
much smaller than you remember.
Walk up the path, and through the garden
gate you never saw before but once.
And then go home. Or make a home.
Descriptions of Heaven and Hell
by Mark Jarman
The wave breaks
And I'm carried into it.
This is hell, I know,
Yet my father laughs,
Chest-deep, proving I'm wrong.
We're safely rooted
Rocked on his toes.
Nothing irked him more
Than asking, "What is there
His theory once was
That love greets you,
And the loveless
Don't know what to say.
Longing and Wonder
by Myra Shapiro
“Talk to Myra you talk to the wall,”
Mama announced when I lived
so long in my head. Behind
my lids was where I fit.
O world, be small enough to hold me,
slow enough to let me swallow.
Maybe I belonged back inside her. Or
beneath the spine of a book. Maybe
among tall buildings to incubate
between their legs. The warm kitchen
was never for me though I wanted
to shine. Passion I called
the pressure wrestling underneath.
Yesterday, in an audience listening to
my first book of poems,
a full professor asked me: “Longing,
how is it different from wonder?”
Astonished, jack-lit as a robber
caught with the goods, I felt my eyes
struggle to withdraw—and then
in longing you close your eyes,
but in wonder you open them.
When those words went
ZINGing through the lovely room,
you bet your sweet ass they opened.