Ever has it been …

Ever has it been
that love knows not its own depth
until the hour of separation.

– Kahlil Gibran



Your first time out of the country
of your own skin, I didn’t bring a map.

You always hated that I’d been lucky
enough to pick my way through streets

I couldn’t pronounce to find cathedrals,
graveyards. If you were a city, you said,

I’d only like to know your suburbs.

If you were a city, I said, I’d like to know
your poor neighborhoods, your inner parts.

Read your graffiti. Drink your tap water.
Feel your smog and dirt stick to my sweat.

Hear your orchestra of sirens and gunshots.
I’d know which of your streets to walk.

If you were a city, I’d expect to be robbed.

— Heather Sommer

excerpt from Affair with Various Endings

It was all too urgent being human.
You ordered drinks, gestured
with your hands, told stories
and the more I knew
the more I was frightened. Those evenings
the air came unpinned, got lost
in autumn & dusk, in the leaves
at the edge of the field. And weren’t the edges themselves
vanishing? When you walked to the barn
where the cats had gone in,
taken to rafters. I heard your footsteps
moving the gravel, the ice
in your glass of vodka.
I listened like that
for the ends of things: the last of the cars, the headlights crossing
our bedroom. I listened
to your breathing.
but rooms kept turning in places
I could not ignore. I left because I loved you
without reserve. Because I would not be allowed
to keep you with me in the world.

– Kate Northrop