Love After Love  

The time will come 
when, with elation 
you will greet yourself arriving 
at your own door, in your own mirror 
and each will smile at the other’s welcome, 

and say, sit here. Eat. 
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart 
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you 

all your life, whom you ignored 
for another, who knows you by heart. 
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf, 

the photographs, the desperate notes, 
peel your own image from the mirror. 
Sit. Feast on your life. 

 -Derek Walcott

 

This is the second time this poem has entered into my life unbidden. The first time was after the others death. I am certain the individual who sent it to me was trying to encourage me to re-embrace myself. I am sure she thought that our love had resulted in my having lost track of myself, as women often will in the head long plunge into love, when love becomes all consuming, passionate, obsessive.  But I hadn’t lost track of myself at all. Quite the opposite happened. I just hadn’t seen it. So when this poem first appeared in my life I missed its message. My vision was clouded by grief.

Today when it appeared and I read it again I knew what it was saying to me. I have actually been thinking this same thing for some months now. I have once again become the person I once was. I am even more so that person than I was at the beginning. I am stronger and more confident now.  Age has granted me the distance from which not to care what others think (this is not the same as not caring about how they feel mind you). This is inpart his gift, it is very much his gift…too bad I had to lose him to find it.

But now I see it and now I can embrace that very same feeling toward another. We are who we are, we are how we are, love me for all of me, so that I may love you for all of you. All of you is safe with all of me. I sing with pain and I sing with pleasure, I weep with the rapture of giving and the ecstasy of being taken.

There is nothing wrong with me. There is everything right about me, for me. The difference now? I see her, I love her, I want her. I have found the key to being her. I have found her the love she deserves.