This morning as I walked along the lakeshore,
I fell in love with a wren
and later in the day with a mouse
the cat had dropped under the dining room table.
In the shadows of an autumn evening,
I fell for a seamstress
still at her machine in the tailor’s window,
and later for a bowl of broth,
steam rising like smoke from a naval battle.
This is the best kind of love, I thought,
without recompense, without gifts,
or unkind words, without suspicion,
or silence on the telephone.
The love of the chestnut,
the jazz cap and one hand on the wheel.
No lust, no slam of the door –
the love of the miniature orange tree,
the clean white shirt, the hot evening shower,
the highway that cuts across Florida.
No waiting, no huffiness, or rancor –
just a twinge every now and then
for the wren who had built her nest
on a low branch overhanging the water
and for the dead mouse,
still dressed in its light brown suit.
But my heart is always propped up
in a field on its tripod,
ready for the next arrow.
After I carried the mouse by the tail
to a pile of leaves in the woods,
I found myself standing at the bathroom sink
gazing down affectionately at the soap,
so patient and soluble,
so at home in its pale green soap dish.
I could feel myself falling again
as I felt its turning in my wet hands
and caught the scent of lavender and stone.
– Billy Collins
Billy Collins was the poet laureate of the United States from 2001 – 2003. He has a wicked sense of humour, a keen eye and a warm heart about the astounding ordinariness of daily life. He’s often quite tongue in cheek. I’ve never seen him in person, but I’m absolutely sure his eyes twinkle. He makes me smile. This is, but one, Billy Collins poem about love. Here’s another one I could write a whole blog post about. Click here for his reading of “The Lanyard”. If you’ve been a parent, a child, or ever been to camp (in case you missed out on either of the first two), you will probably relate.