These Poems, She Said

These poems, these poems,

these poems, she said, are poems

with no love in them. These are the poems of a man   

who would leave his wife and child because   

they made noise in his study. These are the poems   

of a man who would murder his mother to claim   

the inheritance. These are the poems of a man   

like Plato, she said, meaning something I did not   

comprehend but which nevertheless

offended me. These are the poems of a man

who would rather sleep with himself than with women,   

she said. These are the poems of a man

with eyes like a drawknife, with hands like a pickpocket’s   

hands, woven of water and logic

and hunger, with no strand of love in them. These   

poems are as heartless as birdsong, as unmeant   

as elm leaves, which if they love love only   

the wide blue sky and the air and the idea

of elm leaves. Self-love is an ending, she said,   

and not a beginning. Love means love

of the thing sung, not of the song or the singing.   

These poems, she said...

                                       You are, he said,

beautiful.

                That is not love, she said rightly.

Robert Bringhurst, “These Poems, She Said” from The Beauty of the Weapons: Selected Poems 1972–1982. Copyright © 1982 by Robert Bringhurst.