Monday, February 14, 2011

Best Valentine Poem Ever

Super special shout-out to Leah of Chopping Broccoli for being the one to introduce me to this poem...

Okay, my feelings about love poems have been documented and maybe I've evolved a bit since I first wrote about them. I like subtle love poems, not the ones that are so mushy that you want to puke. So it being Valentine's Day today (a farce of a holiday if ever there was one), I thought I'd share the greatest Valentine poem ever.

It's not really about love. And it's barely about Valentine's Day. It's actually more about poetry than anything. However, you look at it, though, it's brilliant. Enjoy...

Valentine for Ernest Mann

By Naomi Shihab Nye

You can't order a poem like you order a taco.
Walk up to the counter, say, "I'll take two"
and expect it to be handed back to you
on a shiny plate.

Still, I like your spirit.
Anyone who says, "Here's my address,
write me a poem," deserves something in reply.
So I'll tell you a secret instead:
poems hide. In the bottoms of our shoes,
they are sleeping. They are the shadows
drifting across our ceilings the moment
before we wake up. What we have to do
is live in a way that lets us find them.

Once I knew a man who gave his wife
two skunks for a valentine.
He couldn't understand why she was crying.
"I thought they had such beautiful eyes."
And he was serious. He was a serious man
who lived in a serious way. Nothing was ugly
just because the world said so. He really
liked those skunks. So, he reinvented them
as valentines and they became beautiful.

Read the rest here. I really like the ending. And the first line. And the idea of poems hiding. And the whole idea that in the process of deriding this person for asking her to write him a poem, Nye has...written him a poem. AND the wordplay of the title is perfect, too, don't you think? Happy Valentine's Day.

1 comment:

  1. Love this poem and haven't seen it in a while. Thanks for sharing it. Poems hiding in skunks' eyes. You HAVE to love that!