Distance Loving. A poem by Tracy Gaughan

I think I could lockdown with the wind. That boy whose gusts
and breezes en route to raising deserts and foundering ships
might bluster through the house, naughtily lifting my skirts
and spirits observing for himself what isn’t there.
For who has a truck with decorum in a time of plague?

I think I could lockdown with blackbirds. They would sing
to me all day of where to find the finest twigs and grasses
for nest-building and every time I opened my mouth they
would drop a little worm in it: Dionysus feeding grapes
to a beautiful nymph, idling on a bed of roses and hyacinths.

I think I could lockdown with cows. For one, they are natural
insulators and although they are not Buddhists, you can hear god
palpably in their steady munchings and cradle-song breathings
inclining you to hold on to these soft locomotives who themselves
might hold on to a grudge but wouldn’t harm a worm.

The vegetable world, professors of virology, spectres, dogs,
and owls: many things are quarantinable with but I don’t think
I could lockdown with you. You would show me that loving
from a distance had been the apotheosis of love all along
and I don’t think I could bear that.

The world is busy learning novel ways of loving, but you
already know that distance loving is not loving less, not
not loving, just loving in a different language. God loves
from a distance; is there, not there. And those tongues you spoke
from your tower of Babel said nothing to me as a child, a teenager,

a grown woman for whom supply never equalled demand in the
economics of love. At least not the kind of love I wanted:
proximate, like rind to fruit. I thought you brought water
and oil, two like charges. No, I couldn’t lock down with you.
If I did I would understand your speechlessness was no gospel

of abdication. I would learn that silence was just another form
of speech, distance another form of fusion and whatever thing
gained me my right to speak gained you your right to silence.
That silent poetry of yours. Those hugs without arms around them,
kisses without lips, lyrics written all over your face before I ever

learned to read; before I knew the heart had its own eyes and ears.
All these years I misunderstood you. All those other things
that took the form of words. You were the poetry. All along.
Then standing outside your window yesterday, waving so hard
my whole body shook, your face warm and bright and constant
as a tabernacle, I realized the thing you knew from the start:
that love is present, even when it appears to be absent.


Tracy Gaughan’s poetry and short fiction have been widely published in literary journals and magazines, including The Blue Nib, The Honest Ulsterman, Spillwords and The Bangor Literary Journal. She lives in Galway. Say hello on twitter.

1 Comment

  1. Just a fabulous poem. Ye all should do an anthology at the end – this has to be centre stage!

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