Happy birthday, R., happy birthday, love.

Care II
Kate Light

I’ve sent you a poem; your first glimpse
of how, in that other world, I speak.
It is a life-line thrown to you, since
things have changed between us. Though I feel weak
wondering how you will be struck by this,
I’m strong with the sense of this new thing, this freak
version of me; because the poem, “Care”, is
one that came in a kind of trance—
which means I don’t know where it came from, or how
it moved itself from thought to thought, sequenced
without help of logic. All I did was allow
it. Yet it says what I know I want
to say to you: love’s a specter which haunts
the living back to life. You see, the peak
of it is not in the couplet ending,
the rhyme, the period; but in the sending.

From The Laws of Falling Bodies by Kate Light, published by Story Line Press, 1997.

Reading a poem, when all I want to do is kiss you.

Reading Someone Else’s Love Poems
Kate Light

is, after all, all we’ve ever done
for centuries—except write them—but what
a strange thing it is, after all, rose-cheeks and sun-
hair and lips, and underarms, and that little gut
I love to nuzzle on, soft under-belly—oops—
that wasn’t what I meant to talk about;
ever since handkerchiefs fell, and hoop-
skirts around ankles swirled
and smiled, lovers have dreamed their loves upon
the pages, courted and schemed and twirled
and styled, hoping that once they’d unfurled their down-
deep longing, they would have their prize—
not the songs of love, but love beneath disguise.

From The Laws of Falling Bodies by Kate Light, published by Story Line Press, 1997.

I can’t shake you off, no matter how hard I try. Listening to Nina Simone. Smoking and reading this poem.

I Never Want To Go When It’s Time
Kate Light

I never want to go when it’s time
to go; I want to hang back, to read
a book, or make another line rhyme.
I always think that what I really need
is there in the place that I am leaving,
not waiting in the new place I ached
to go to. I go, but with a kind of grieving,
saying, Why’d I ever wish to shake
things up, when things were really fine?
To be with him I always had to yank
my roots, I always had to pull my bones
by heartstrings, to tear my spine
from land to land; sometimes I walked a plank
to reach that world, and breathe, and write these poems.

From Open Slowly by Kate Light, published by Zoo Press, 2003.

I know, I need to forget you. But this time of the year makes it so damn hard. I couldn’t, wouldn’t – believe it. Just last year might have probably been the happiest Christmas of my life.

Nina Simone on the radio. Singing how well she’s been, without her man. I get along without you very well, she sings. Of course I do. But oh, oh, oh. That telling line, in the end: to think my breaking heart could kid the moon—

I keep telling myself: be strong, be strong. But I remember being strongest when I was with you. You kept me together. When you left, I shattered into a million pieces, and now I don’t even know where to begin picking up. I’m not even sure if I’ll be able to retrieve all of me.

There, I switched the station. And it’s Joni Mitchell, and I switched again because I couldn’t bear that, I couldn’t. But not before hearing, I really don’t know love at all—

And I never really knew you at all. I thought we were happy. But now, there’s the sense that everything is all out on the table. And I see you standing up, walking away from everything. Walking away from me. But darling—

What is there left to say? There is only Frank Sinatra now, wishing you love, and a poem, to end this night:

Kate Light

when you’re lonely in your room, and the year
is hovering in your eyes; remember, when
he calls you late and sorry, how the tears
had made you wise; how it happened again
and again, pushing you out and pulling you in,
and how his words were wind that fanned your fears;
how he could not help himself, though his skin
was sweet and soft, and though — when you were near —
he was drawn to you; how his body was truth and on-
ly his body was truth — no, no, remember how lost
you felt and how often, and how high the cost,
and how close Love sat next to Lone.
Remember — a whispering in your vein — how keen
the pleasure, but how stabbing deep the pain.

From Open Slowly by Kate Light, published by Zoo Press, 2003.