Aimless Love

As I mentioned in a previous post, tonight I read through a few poems written by Billy Collins. He's one of my all-time favorite poets--I first read his work during my Writing Poetry class with Dr. Charles Fort. Collins was buried in a $90 anthology I bought for the class, but I read over and over his poems and tried (with failure!) to mimic his style. Later on in my undergraduate career, Billy Collins's work as our Poet Laureate became the foundations for a research project a professor and I worked on. I have wonderful memories of losing myself for hours in Billy Collins poems at the Coffee House in Lincoln.

Tonight I revisited his book Nine Horses. I thumbed through and read five or six poems and came across one that I had dog-eared several years ago called Aimless Love. Tonight I fell in love with the poem...again. Enjoy.

Aimless Love

This morning as I walked along the lakeshore,
I fell in love with a wren
and later in the day with a mouse
the cat had dropped under the dining room table.

In the shadows of an autumn evening,
I fell for a seamstress
still at her machine in the tailor’s window,
and later for a bowl of broth,
steam rising like smoke from a naval battle.

This is the best kind of love, I thought,
without recompense, without gifts,
or unkind words, without suspicion,
or silence on the telephone.

The love of the chestnut,
the jazz cap and one hand on the wheel.

No lust, no slam of the door -
the love of the miniature orange tree,
the clean white shirt, the hot evening shower,
the highway that cuts across Florida.

No waiting, no huffiness, or rancor -
just a twinge every now and then

for the wren who had built her nest
on a low branch overhanging the water
and for the dead mouse,
still dressed in its light brown suit.

But my heart is always propped up
in a field on its tripod,
ready for the next arrow.

After I carried the mouse by the tail
to a pile of leaves in the woods,
I found myself standing at the bathroom sink
gazing down affectionately at the soap,

so patient and soluble,
so at home in its pale green soap dish.
I could feel myself falling again
as I felt its turning in my wet hands
and caught the scent of lavender and stone.

- Billy Collins -

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