Tuesday, November 22, 2022

The Long Love


The Long Love

Love is a function
of distance. So I wrote
when your touch was too near;
but what long love we
have close-held in us,
to live for the work
for the planting, the sprouting;
for the quick fruit, which
only ripens to disappear
forsaking the night garden's peace
for what its voyaging shell protects,
wind-used and earth-taken,
passed and used again as
many times as trees have leaves,
as grass has planets of dew
silvering in summer light
reflecting wild deer eyes
untamed to our desire.
Everything shifts
in this new age.
Spring is removed,
remote as a cluster of stars
blurred on the far frozen wheeze
of solar wind. Language 
is stirred in a kettle of nightshade.
Intent is a comic ghost
in the styrofoam west wing
chattering to dust sheets
it believes are its mates,
as the void gambles and
pulls and dances and beckons,
reckons us a foreign dark
that is not our own night garden,
falling hard as dead wishes
if our loving days
should ever be done.

 November 2022

posted for earthweal's
Images: Saving the Okra Seed, September 2022
and Okra Blooming, July 2022, both ©joyannjones


  1. There is such a stark contrast here between the constant renewal and re-use of the natural world, and the rot of the human world in the second section. I love the dew planets on the grass, and the Styrofoam west wing. The first section makes me want to re-read it again and again--it is as fresh and cheering as new sprouts in the Spring. Moreover, the reflected deer eyes is just masterful, Joy. My old petsitter told me that the original language for the story of Adam being given dominion over the animals does not say "dominion", but rather, something more akin to "stewardship." If so, we need to start doing a far better job.

    1. Thank you, Shay. Dominion is not something we deserve, I fear.

  2. Oh WOW. I love this so much. A glorious read. Your imagery is cutting edge. I especially love the second verse.......so beautiful. Then we come to the present age. Love the styrofoam west wing. Wonderful work, Joy!

  3. Look what's become of the garden, where long love grows quick fruit that ripens to disappear and yet return again and again: A sterile promontory where spring never comes, language "is stirred in a kettle of nightshade" and "the void" "reckons us a foreign dark / that is not our own night garden" and waits for the last garden to be planted. Of course, it's the tending that's at issue here, and such different distance will require a different love -- whatever that might be, the poem doesn't attempt to name. (What it does, it's with a gardener's eloquence.) But inheritors must learn to work with stellar distance and "styrofoam" organics, with human hubris for manure and ribs that once could hold a heart for furrowing-tools. But by then, any tool in any garden might seem a blessing and potent. Grief for magnitudes lost in the first stanza may be sufficient.

    1. Thanks, B. To paraphrase Carl Sandburg, sometimes even I don't know what my poems mean. I will read them years later and have it come to me, perhaps, but at the time of writing I'm many times just a hand with a pen/keyboard, a cerebral relay of some sort. Your challenge evoked these words, and I thank you for it.

  4. The first three lines read as a Zen poem, the seed of which birth a beautiful duality of verses. This really is a feast of words and metaphor, both bright and disarming. Others here have pointed to the lines that were sunflowers in my garden of reading so I will add to that only this observation. The ghost-like whispering sense of 'might be' that echoes at the end of reading seems to be planted in the garden of that 'foreign dark', warning us of that we need to tend. It hangs, Damocles like in the air, as we depart. Masterful.

    1. Damocles, indeed. We sit in his chair these days. Thank you Paul for your insightful and generous comment.

  5. I read this a few days ago and have revisited a few times since. I never know what to say to your poems - they floor me completely. This is beautiful - the contrast, the images, the structure - all of it beautiful.

    1. Thank you, Lindi, for the very kind comment. Your site is now private so I cannot return it at this time.


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats

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