Day 51

5.02: We’ve already had a poem by Pablo Neruda, but I was thinking about this one again last night, which is something I sometimes do. It’s the only poem I can remember ever having made me cry. At the time, I pretended it didn’t, just swallowed hard and stared into the middle-distance for a moment, but it did.

It’s a weird memory, which is probably why I’m still dwelling on it this morning. I’m reasonably level-headed and don’t cry very easily. In fact, on the odd occasion when outrageous fortune’s chucked a sling or arrow in my direction, I’ve prided myself on keeping my cool and toughing it out.

In the anecdotal part of the memory, I’m with a girl. I’ve been with her for a long time now, and she shows me the poem because she finds it moving. I pretended to be stoic about it – stoicism being my thing – which must have been a mistake because within months she’d left me.

But this is all context. You need these background details so I can get to the thing I’ve really been dwelling on which is this. I perversely liked being made to cry by a poem, and it doesn’t seem to work twice.

Now, what I’m not sure about is: did it just catch me at a particularly vulnerable moment – dimly conscious my relationship was flaking apart like tissue paper in a glass of Coke – or do I just not cry anymore because I know the (admittedly soppy) punchline?

If it’s the first, I’m a bit disappointed in myself, and in poetry. If it’s the second, the search goes on for another poem – it must exist somewhere – to prick the tears from my ducts.

Anyway, here’s the poem. Let me know if anyone weeps.

Your Feet

When I cannot look at your face
I look at your feet.
Your feet of arched bone,
your hard little feet.
I know that they support you,
and that your sweet weight
rises upon them.
Your waist and your breasts,
the doubled purple
of your nipples,
the sockets of your eyes
that have just flown away,
your wide fruit mouth,
your red tresses,
my little tower.
But I love your feet
only because they walked
upon the earth and upon
the wind and upon the waters,
until they found me.

6.48: Another morning of typing and deleting, typing and deleting. I’m starting to feel like a virtuoso Subbuteo player, who never wins a game, in spite of playing with all 10 fingers. Word count crawling up the Blue Peter totaliser towards its target, but definitely crawling not climbing.

~ by David Thorley on March 2, 2010.

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