This has been one of my favorite love poems since I read it in my creative writing class at community college more than a decade ago. Maybe it’s because I am a klutz that I identified quickly. Upon further reading, the things to love about this poem add up… you know this person loves the subject of the poem not because they say “I love you” but because they notice all of these little details. The good and the bad. The clumsy and the grace. The human details.
So this post is for valentine’s day, clearly. Love poems! I already wrote a post about writing love poems to yourself, so I wanted to challenge you to do it again, but go deeper this time. Try to look objectively at all types of qualities – not just the warm and fuzzy ones, because those tend to sound like cheerleader’s rants, not poetry. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes you need the cheerleader. But today, take the time. Assess. Love all of your human details.
Love Poem by John Frederick Nims
My clumsiest dear, whose hands shipwreck vases,
At whose quick touch all glasses chip and ring,
Whose palms are bulls in china, burs in linen,
And have no cunning with any soft thing
Except all ill-at-ease fidgeting people:
The refugee uncertain at the door
You make at home; deftly you steady
The drunk clambering on his undulant floor.
Unpredictable dear, the taxi drivers’ terror,
Shrinking from far headlights pale as a dime
Yet leaping before apopleptic streetcars—
Misfit in any space. And never on time.
A wrench in clocks and the solar system. Only
With words and people and love you move at ease;
In traffic of wit expertly maneuver
And keep us, all devotion, at your knees.
Forgetting your coffee spreading on our flannel,
Your lipstick grinning on our coat,
So gaily in love’s unbreakable heaven
Our souls on glory of spilt bourbon float.
Be with me, darling, early and late. Smash glasses—
I will study wry music for your sake.
For should your hands drop white and empty
All the toys of the world would break.