How sad it is that shame
can press the beauty out of love,
and what a pity when we are led away
by the guilt in our hands, as if we held
the tears of a disapproving father.
You mustn’t make that face
or shake your head,
or pretend you’ve no idea how it happens.
How many children can you love?
How many friends or pets or landscapes
fill equally the chambers of your heart?
No one dares to tell you how precious
the emptiness can be— that ache-filled longing
which reaches toward heaven
when something like love takes root in the
desert of years.
And even though our beds are full
of monogamy and babies and even joy,
our large hearts can nourish
with forbidden tenderness
an invented life which sometimes
is the reason for our smile.