So already, maybe love means never needing to exaggerate. Maybe a list of similes drawn from the known and daily is more than enough to convey "How do I love thee."* Forget "Now I shout it from the highest hills"**: the worn living room couch suffices as the place of proclamation.
Traci Brimhall's "Love Poem Without a Drop of Hyperbole in It"** certainly makes the case for that. I came upon it earlier today as I was turning through this week's New Yorker while finishing my morning coffee. Its first line, "I love you like ladybugs love windowsills," hooked me--because one of the windowsills ladybugs love most is the one beneath the afternoon sun-heated front window of our cabin just west of Williamstown over the New York border. Since the rest of the poem kept me smiling just as much as that first line, I share it with you here. I mean how often do "tongue" and "socks" get mentioned in the same line of poem? Whenever this poem starts to go erotic, it veers back to cozy; whenever it presents love as utterly consuming and ecstatic, it sends us right back to earth with references to things like roadkill and cellphones. Here it is:
|Photograph of Section of Page 33 of The New Yorker|
We're giddy but still wise when we're really happy; we know too well feeling this good won't be the eternal new normal; why else that "A little hopeless"? I think the only place that I might have a different opinion than Brimhall is when she says, "I swear/ this love is ungodly, not an ounce of suffering in it." Yes, humans are bound to suffer. But to posit that love is "ungodly" because it's so thoroughly, relentlessly pleasurable doesn't work for me. "To every thing there is a season," says The Book of Ecclesiastes.
You might also enjoying listening to Brimhall read her poem; I did.
* Check out Elizabeth Barrett Browning's "How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43): https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/how-do-i-love-thee-sonnet-43
** A line from "Secret Love," which Doris Day sang in the movie Calamity Jane: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aiueIiFJdN8
Brimhall, T. (2018, January 8). Love poem without a drop of hyperbole in it. The New Yorker, XCIII(43), 33-33.