Alice B. Fogel
Poet Laureate of New Hampshire (2014-2019)
Variation 22: Equivocator
Say that love is a love that cannot die.
So that if it does it is not a matter neither
created nor destroyed and isn’t love.
Or was it? So that to have loved and lost
is never to have loved at all: Can love
never die with impunity? Is suicide
love’s only way out? Say love is molecular,
pheromones, phoneme, idea: Can’t it have two
or more sides? What if the loved object dies
and the love is without object, then what
is the object of love? Or if the object lives—
I know, I know, I know but let’s just say—
but the love takes another subject to love.
Can love not translate, multiply, commute?
Can love never be pluperfect nor plural,
would you have it be censored, suppressed?
Say love was a love that died.
Say love never loved, did what it pleased,
made its own choices, got a cat. Or that
a love unloved was nevertheless itself
a love, and could. If it wanted.
Say love is a love defined by love itself,
loves itself, knows nothing
but itself, is always one
and the same: Is love a mirror, a point,
spiral, sphere, a line? What? So say love
could wait for us to die
to die. Or could wait forever to love
its true love, who’s waiting, so that in waiting
to love it’s still a love, although
true, unloved, and so perhaps is dead,
unless that isn’t love.
from Interval: Poems Based Upon Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” (Schaffner Press) first appeared in Slice Magazine, Spring 2013
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