LOVE ISN’T AN ANTI-VENOM
Love isn’t an anti-venom
you inject into your heart
every time you feel the moon
sink its fangs into your heel
like Persephone in the spring
dragged down into the underworld.
Love isn’t a cure
for the way you feel
bilious about the world.
It isn’t black toast to your stomach acid.
It isn’t the holy grail.
Go looking for it like a sail
even over the edge of the known world
and you and the wind will both fail.
Try to run from it like time
and it turns into space.
Love isn’t the meaning of anything.
It isn’t a cause.
It isn’t a final effect.
And though it might hang from the Buddha’s nose
like the jewel of a fact
it’s not something to accept or reject.
Love is an embrace that deepens your solitude.
It isn’t a way of keeping the lights on at night.
It won’t save you from death.
Love is a dark matter.
What can you know of it?
It’s not an abstract idea.
It’s not in the world of forms
though it often assumes
the shape of the universe
like a white horse on a hillside in the moonlight
in early autumn with the first frost upon the ground
it isn’t the exit of your beginnings
nor the entrance of your ends.
Love is a helium high weather balloon
that dumps things out to gain altitude
like family and friends
as it ascends to the stars.
But it’s not a parachute.
It’s not a dandelion seed.
It’s not a way of growing wings on the way down
like the twin-bladed propellers
on the seeds of a maple tree
It won’t turn your feathers back into scales.
You might unreasonably expect perfection
but love is just as much a way
of imperfecting things
as it is the genius that resolves them
by coming up with a unified field theory
that explains everything.
When two people gamble on love
one is always the squared bone
of a foundation stone
and the other the eyes of the dice.
Love can squander stars
like a generous Cowichan chieftain at a Potlatch
to make a show of its power and wealth
and spend itself like a mountain
on everyone around
and then resent the wind a few seeds
stuck in its hair like flowerless diamonds.
To ask for something
isn’t the same as to ask
but love isn’t the answer to a prayer
anymore than a face in a mirror is.
It’s like inspiration.
It doesn’t care.
Love might be food for the soul.
But it hungers like a body.
The gods might imbibe
from celestial fountains
all kinds of elixirs nectars and wine
but there’s nothing divine
about the way love drinks blood.
Or tears the flesh of false messiahs.
If you haven’t learned to fear love
you don’t know it yet.
You don’t know
how dark and lonely it can get
on the far side of the moon
when love turns its back on you
like a cross it refused to carry.
You don’t know the terrible history
of being mortal in a world that’s passing
until love opens its eyelids like a rose
and reveals the corruption it’s been hiding
deep in its heart for years
like a worm
that just wouldn’t turn into a butterfly.
Or what a thankless discipline it is
to haul your emotions
like blocks of quicksand
up to the top of a gold-capped pyramid
that never got off the ground
to ensure the afterlife of love
is a happy mummy hunting with Orion
among stars that shine down on nothing.
Love is a cosmic caprice.
An uncompromising accomplice.
It commits the crime
and then it calls the police
and makes a false confession.
Love isn’t a calling or a cult or a mission.
It isn’t a holy war God can’t win.
You can sell your soul
like debased currency
to the devil for it
or your flesh to a passing john
but love isn’t a profession.
It isn’t rehabilitation.
Love doesn’t have an I.Q.
and it’s not a lesson you can learn.
It doesn’t say to the water flow
or the fire burn.
It’s not the Tao or the I Ching.
It’s not a cheap novel you can read like Tarot.
It’s not a sign language for blind pronouns.
You can ask it anything.
It puts its finger to its lips like silence
and blows the stars out
and rolls up the braille starmaps
that failed to grope their way
through a northwest passage
tapping the ice like three blind mice
with the white canes of their broken masts
around a continent
that calls itself North America
but acts just like Atlantis.
Love might play the part of the clown
but the roles it seeks are tragic.
A great black affable familiar
that practises white magic
love is a spider
that seams its webs like dreamcatchers
and silks the torn butterflies
in cocoons that confuse the dead.
Trying to say what love is
when it keeps its word
is like trying to describe colours
to a blind chameleon in front of a mirror
when it’s looking the other way.
Love is elemental
but you can’t place it on a periodic table
or count photons in a Wilson cloud chamber
or find the mystic G-spot of the universe
in a hadron collider
by bombarding it with orgasms
in a charged particle field reversing spin
like a beatific sin.
Love is meeker than light
in a black ice age
that can’t bring itself to cry.
If God were ever prone
to distort the truth
love would be her lie.