To One Who Has Been Loved

My greatest hope has always been
     Your reality.
Your greatest desire has always been
     Freedom from that reality.
You tell me it is a lost cause,
A trivial waste of time in the long run,
     But I still want to know for myself.

How bitter you seem for someone blessed;
Has she lost all her charm so soon?
     To me she still radiates youth and vitality.
Has her music become your singsong?
     To me she remains an aria of Spring.

"She is a theme with no variations," you say,
     But what has become of your inspiration?
For indeed, you now seem impervious to melody.

"Let Woman live in your dreams, but never in your house," you now say;
But my house contains only the phantoms of life:
     The detached strains of a Grieg Lied,
     Shelves of obscure wisdom and musings of the dead,
     Blind faces staring at me from paintings on the wall.

"Maybe you should get a cat," you say.
"They eat mice, will usually let you pet them when you so desire,
And are usually content to look after their own affairs and leave you to yours."

But my affairs have grown sterile from want of human exchange.
My books offer me riches and subtlety in wisdom,
But tender words and caresses, never.
My music moves the spirit, almost to tears even,
But the flesh which I am is neglected,
And there are no
Eyes which understand and offer living comfort,
No spontaneous speech to break the Spartan rhythms of routine.

Can the "chains of banality" you speak of be a greater evil than this?
Is mere convenience too great a price for the tenderness of the Other?
Or is it merely a matter of the choosing,
Of "letting the buyer beware."
Even if this is so, I can only envy you,
For you have always had the capital I lack for such purchases—
     Confidence, personal charm.

For what end does Fate conspire to rob rich and poor alike
     Of the fruits of Love?
Ah, truly man is the frailest of all creatures!

George Chadderdon © 1995