Forget the card. Give a poem.

by Gabrielle Freeman

It’s that time of year again. Three full aisles of inflated red mylar, plastic wrapped heart-shaped boxes, and stuffies everywhere from teeny-tiny to I-could-use-it-for-a-bed. An entire section of folded cardstock replete with card-sized words about love. Pffffttt I say.

All of the writing I’ve sampled in the following poem works. All. Of. It. Ditch the card. Send your lover a poem.

Valentine’s Anaphora

I want to say something about love.
I want to say something about
standing at the edge of the sea, about
sleeping next to “her sepulchre there by the sea” (Poe).

I want to say I’ve felt the sand against my cheek.
I’ve felt the spray, wet and cold, against my cheek.

I want to say “In the madness and soil
of that sad earthly scene / only then I am human
/ only then I am clean” (Hozier-Byrne).

I want to say I’ve felt the dirt clenched
in my palms. I’ve felt the earth grit and stick
against my splayed palms.

I want to say “You know what / you know with your hands,
wish the night blacker since / blackest
is forever” and “You cannot now comfort me.
/ So disown me. The soil is free.
Within it lives all that matters.
/ One day, I’ll see you down there” (Marvin).

I want to say the sand and the soil, the dirt and the earth, scream
want and desire and, oh god, love.

I want to say “grab my fingers gently,
/ slam them in a doorway, put my face
into the ground” (White).

I want to say something sweet and subtle about love
like that.

Hozier-Byrne, Andrew. “Take Me To Church.” Hozier. Rubyworks, 2014. CD.
Marvin, Cate. “Plastic Cookie.” poets.org. 2015. Web. 12 Feb. 2015.
Poe, Edgar Allan. “Annabel Lee.” Poetry Foundation. 2015. Web. 12 Feb. 2015.
White, Jack. “Love Interruption.” Blunderbuss. Third Man Records, 2012. CD.

Just Right Love Poem

Because it snowed over four inches here in Eastern North Carolina, and because it never snows here, my family and I had two days together in the house, watching the snow fall, listening to the ice pellets hit the thick layer of snow, and playing My Little Pony Monopoly. The ponies teach about the power of friendship and love, and so those things should have been on our minds, but we all managed to still forget that tomorrow was Valentine’s Day, and so it came about that, after working a nine hour day, I found myself at the Walgreens picking out Valentines I thought my son would like and choosing some decent candy from the little that was left.

 I picked two packs of Valentines: cute baby animals and Spiderman. My son chose the Spiderman ones so that he could keep the cute baby animals for himself. My daughter chose to make Valentines for her classmates. And as I watched her draw a unique animal complete with caption for each of her friends (Sssleepy Sssnake says You’re Sssweet!), I thought about what Valentine’s Day has meant to me.

 I can remember my dad leaving small, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates outside my brother’s and my doors when we were little. I can remember wanting to receive sucker-grams in junior high and being largely disappointed. I can remember in high school and college vaguely wanting something lavishly romantic, though I wasn’t really sure what. Now, I’ve been married for twelve years, and I really just want the house to be cleaned by magic, some good food I don’t have to cook or clean up after, and my kids to have good memories, to have fun, and, above all, to feel loved.

And I want to tell you about love poems. How they encapsulate ache, ecstasy, romance; how they reach in and twist, and make you want to come back for more. I remember reading Robert Herrick’s “To the Virgins to Make Much of Time” in my Norton Anthology when I was seventeen and thinking, yes. That’s right. And I remember reading Karyna McGlynn’s “When Someone Says I Love You the Whole” on my smart phone several weeks ago and thinking, yes. That’s right. 

For today, I want to share this: “The Shirt” by Jane Kenyon. “The shirt touches his neck / and smooths over his back. / It slides down his sides. / It even goes down below his belt— / down into his pants. / Lucky shirt.” 

That’s it. And, yes. That’s just right.

Kenyon, Jane. “The Shirt.” Collected Poems. Saint Paul, MN: Graywolf Press, 2005. Poetry Foundation. 2014. Web. 13 Feb. 2014.