It All Depends

Que reste-t-il de nos amours?

— Charles Trenet

Et nos amours, faut-il qu’il m’en souvienne?

— Apollinaire

But it is not love that I would speak of
for as you see, I am of
the nineteenth century, when love was
… well, it all depends,
and I can’t get out of it,
whatever this love is.
I will die in it and I hope
of it, it is the preamble
to walking in and sitting
down and saying “Hi”
before anything else has a chance
to happen. And then
of course nothing does,
which is why you keep saying it—
you can’t get out
of saying it. So you may as well
take off your hat and stay a while,
which is what you always planned on anyway.

The nineteenth century,
what a tremendous thing to be in love in!
Cottages go by and music piles up
like excited dead people,
but the century is more complicated
than one had expected
now that everyone has a pot and a pan
but not a love of the pot and the pan.
And look at those sailing ships
on the wide main and the stairways
that spiral into heaven
and that bird with a long red beard
sticking straight up!
It’s our chance to separate ourselves
into small pieces and have them
go out in different directions
to reassemble what time long ago dispersed
in the form of granules and mist.

A nightingale warbled
the tune it was supposed to
so the world would calm down,
for there’s nothing wrong with resting
alongside this shady rill and taking capsules
as if they were piles of stones placed at intervals
by people who must have had a meaning
in mind but with no thought of telling you
what it was, for they didn’t know that you
would exist. Therefore, lie down and rest.
The afternoon is mild and your love
is not driving you crazy, temporarily.
You are not granules and mist.

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