Monday, July 06, 2009

John Frederick Nims' Love Poem

Came a across this 'forgotten' extraordinary love poem from the American poet John Frederick Nims (1913 - 1999). Usually such poems mention the good qualities of your other half, your better self. Not with Nims who starts off this poem by telling the reader that the woman he loves is no good at all. The second stanza explains why: she is an expert in much more important things in life. She helps people that are not helped by others. Nims is not trying to change her. In fact, he is willing to change himself.

'Love Poem'

My clumsiest dear, whose hands shipwreck vases,
At whose quick touch all glasses chip and ring,
Whose palms are bulls in china, burs in linen,
And have no cunning with any soft thing

Except all ill-at-ease fidgeting people:
The refugee uncertain at the door
You make at home; deftly you steady
The drunk clambering on his undulant floor.

Unpredictable dear, the taxi drivers' terror,
Shrinking from far headlights pale as a dime
Yet leaping before apopleptic streetcars—
Misfit in any space. And never on time.

A wrench in clocks and the solar system. Only
With words and people and love you move at ease;
In traffic of wit expertly manoeuver
And keep us, all devotion, at your knees.

Forgetting your coffee spreading on our flannel,
Your lipstick grinning on our coat,
So gaily in love's unbreakable heaven
Our souls on glory of spilt bourbon float.

Be with me, darling, early and late. Smash glasses
I will study wry music for your sake.
For should your hands drop white and empty
All the toys of the world would break.