THEMES ON LOVE
Grading themes on love at MIT,
one-man Symposium at 3
A.M., across the court I saw a light,
another office-holder working late.
While Plato on a silver pillow rode
above the waves of pre-sophistic prose,
I jotted teacher's notions that were not
as brave as our two lamps against the glut
of dawn. But when I clicked mine off
his too at once was gone: had been
my echo in a distant sheen
of glass: had been my own, and I
was lonely then, and wrote
these English words.
In my box of a cinderblock office in Building
14, I doze on the narrow couch and you
haven't phoned and it strikes me that lying
dead will be packaged and cold and straight
like this, exactly like this, only minus
the clock you bought me, the books, the sketch
Caren sent from Rome - and yes, of course,
no window, no rising to watch a boy
and his dog below; but otherwise just
like death, only adding the chair the lamp the
chess column clipped from the Thursday Times and your
voice your laughter the wind on the way
to the car that claims it's real that says
it will slap my face awake or push me
down or twist me in half if it wants to.
WITHIN ANOTHER LIFE
Those whose days were grudging or confused
may end up trapped within another life
as a boulder or a pane of glass,
or a door that suffers every time it's slammed.
If I return a boulder, love, some summer day
come sit by me and contemplate these horses and these hills.
And if a windowpane, gaze through to see
the meadow on our walks where brown geese strut.
And if I am a door, come home through me,
be sure I'll keep you safe.
And if a knotted, twisted rope
from long self-clenching and complexity,
oh love, unbind, unbraid me then
until I flow again like windswept hair.
[Barry Spacks taught in the Lierature Section at MIT from 1960 to 1983. The author of nine books of poetry, including most recently Regarding Women and The Hope of the Air, he currently teaches English at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The poems above are reprinted by permission.]