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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