I had a lover once, I had a lover twice, easily three times I loved. And in between my heart reconstructed itself perfectly like a worm. And my dreams also reconstructed themselves.

After a time, I realized I was living a completely idiotic life. Idiotic, wasted. And sometime later, you and I began to correspond, inventing an entirely new form.

Deep intimacy over great distance! Keats to Fanny Brawne, Dante to Beatrice.

One cannot invent a new form in an old character. The letters I sent remained immaculately ironic, aloof yet forthright. Meanwhile, I was writing different letters in my head, some of which became poems.

So much genuine feeling! So many fierce declarations of passionate longing!

I loved once, I loved twice, and suddenly the form collapsed: I was unable to sustain ignorance.

How sad to have lost you, to have lost any chance of actually knowing you or remembering you over time as a real person, as someone I could have grown deeply attached to, maybe the brother I never had.

And how sad to think of dying before finding out anything. And to realize how ignorant we all are most of the time, seeing-things only from the one vantage, like a sniper.

And there were so many things I never got to tell you about myself, things which might have swayed you. And the photo I never sent, taken the night I looked almost splendid.

I wanted you to fall in love. But the arrow kept hitting the mirror and coming back. And the letters kept dividing themselves with neither half totally true.

And sadly, you never figured out any of this, though you always wrote back so promptly, always the same elusive letter.

I loved once, I loved twice, and even though in our case things never got off the ground it was a good thing to have tried. And I still have the letters of course. Sometimes I will take a few years’ worth to reread in the garden, with a glass of iced tea.

And I feel, sometimes, part of something very great, wholly profound and sweeping.

I loved once, I loved twice, easily three times I loved.

from The American Poetry Review Jan/Feb 2001


so beautiful. ❤