Conrad Hilberry: Love Poem with Scenery


This poem is called Love Poem with Scenery. And I’m leaving a little bit for the scenery but there’s still some scenery in here. It’s set on a rooftop in Mexico. This is about twenty years ago or so. We spent a good part of a year in Mexico… and had a little house, sort of, to live in, and it had a rooftop – the way houses do in Mexico. This wasn’t on the beach. It was in the mountains. And so up there we could look down and there was a valley and the lake and stuff, and ok. That’s not really very important to the poem except that’s where we were… and that concreteness lies behind it. Yeah. And I start out with – well, you’ll see. Our friends are dying—Kitty Steele,
Don Kinsman—while we mourn here
on the roof, wrapping sun and wind around our necks like a long scarf
woven there to the west
in Guanajuato. They die— still funny, quick, generous,
no tapering off, just dead. And that’s us, gone any minute now
to some bright dust out there. What will be left? Daughters,
students, friends—and a long love,
a love so steady I almost forget I walk in it all day
like air, like the down-winding call
of the canyon wren, like the faint smell swung from some censer far upwind, blessing me
with woodsmoke. To think that I,
awkward, unhandsome, should have been loved, just matter-of-factly loved
with no subjunctives, no riffling
through old possibilities. We knew each other a few months
and were married, ignorant
and lucky. I was baffled, gradually getting the hang of this
new tongue in which you were
so fluent. You’ve always had a gift— tutoring foreigners desperate to speak… (that was her work, English as a second language) …tutoring foreigners desperate to speak.
Gradually, I slurred my way
to new inflections, rolled r’s, idioms that can’t quite be translated.
And now, after daughters, deaths,
lives lost and found, love eases back toward silence—or no, not silence
but a half-speech that slips
into the curve of back and belly, spooned together
under the blankets, calling each other
out of bad dreams, as, here on the roof, sun and wind
move through each others’ body. Wind and sun twist in your hand, becoming
this quick light.

3 thoughts on “Conrad Hilberry: Love Poem with Scenery

  1. And now, wind and sun are reunited, to wind themselves together once again, forever upon mount olympus, as they deserve.

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