My love is like a list
Neither exclusive nor endless
Neither obsessive nor shallow
When I hear the right name
No matter where I am
No matter what care occupied my mind, just the moment before
I will feel love
For those on my list
Not being subject to rules, I cannot explain
Write their name
On my list
Neither beauty, nor utility,
Rank amongst the qualifications, though I value those prizes like all people do
Hard as it is, to describe
Why I love,
Those I love,
I do love them.
And when loved,
When added to the list,
It is harder still to remove them from it
Once added, they belong forever
Like a knife cuts a name in living wood
They have changed me
They will remain loved
You can fight me
You can dislike me
You can ignore me
You can abhor me
You may never love me back
But my love is like a list
And once I feel it for you
I will always feel it,
My love is not like a kiss
No fleeting glance, no moment of proximity
My love goes with me, wherever I go
Stays with you, wherever you are,
Asks nothing, expects nothing,
Craves one thing.
My love is a longing,
To be of some help, to those on the list
To help them be, who they want to be
Whatever they want to be
And whilst my love is painful
Its longing is deep, and goes on forever
My utility thin, and easily exceeded
I know my love is like a list
And always will be
This is a beautiful poem, one of the finest I have ever read on the subject of love.
There’s an Emily Dickinson simplicity to the piece. The use of “proximity” is an artful way of describing physical love. And the contrast of many short words with the long, intellectual word “proximity” makes the mind linger on that point.
Dickinson’s Time and Eternity, for example, makes us stop at the word “Immortality” and try to decipher its deeper meaning.
The best definition of love I ever heard was “appreciation for another’s otherness.” I learned that from at a marvelous Ethics class at Notre Dame University — the professor was a Baptist.
Love is so often a reflection of our own desire. But if you can love a bird sitting on a branch, a bird that doesn’t give a hoot who you are, well, there’s love in that gaze.
But the many birds I have admired int his life are admittedly not on my list! So I do think you have captured the essence of a lover’s irrational attachment to the loved.