I’m sorry I cannot say I love you when you say you love me. The words, like moist fingers, appear before me full of promise but then run away to a narrow black room that is always dark, where they are silent, elegant, like antique gold, devouring the thing I feel. I want the force of attraction to crush the force of repulsion and my inner and outer worlds to pierce one another, like a horse whipped by a man. I don’t want words to sever me from reality. I don’t want to need them. I want nothing to reveal feeling but feeling—as in freedom, or the knowledge of peace in a realm beyond, or the sound of water poured into a bowl.
Reprinted from Blackbird and Wolf © 2007 by Henri Cole, by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Learn more about FSG poets at fsgpoetry.com.