“Your mouth / and the sea will taste of each other”

One of my favorite love poems. It fits this Friday. Then again, it doesn’t. Well, it’s complicated (isn’t always). If you haven’t read Hacker now, please do so. An excellent poet. A good place to start would be the Selected Poems 1965-1990, a slim but magnificent volume.

Marilyn Hacker: Somewhere In A Turret

Somewhere in a turret in time,
castled and catacombed in but
still on a tan street that
ends with a blue-and-white gingerbread house,
those rooms are still filled
with our pictures and books. On the sill
our black-and-white cat hums after a fly.
It is getting light. When we come in,
no one will ask you to leave, no one will send me away.

Nobody lives in the present, time
has textures past and future that
tongues taste at, fingers feel for.
The present happens in rooms
I am not in; past rooms
are only momentarily
empty, if I knew how
to turn around, I would cross the threshold smiling.
No one would ask me to leave, no one would send me away.

Don’t think I’m trying to ignore the time
I piled my things into a cab and left
a note for you and one for the dinner guests.
Those rooms have new tenants. You and I
may never share a closet or a towel-rack
again. We contrived it. I am still
surprised waking up without you every morning.
But I can’t camp out in your house or you in mine.
People would ask me to leave. People would send you away.

Still, I am an optimist. Sometime
we may be sitting, maybe near the ocean
on a cliff, and under the blown spray
get tangled in each other’s fingers and hair;
and in that arbitrary future, your mouth
and the sea will taste of each other.
It is so easy to make things happen
like a freeze shot ending a movie
so you don’t leave, and I don’t go away.

But you know about words. You have had time
to figure out that hardly anyone
came back to bed because of a poem.
Poems praise and protect us from
our lovers. While I write this
I am not having heartburn
about your indifference. We could walk
into any room.
You wouldn’t ask me to leave. I wouldn’t send you away.


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