Margaret Young
Awkward Love Poem

It’s not like you can compress the files of love
to fit them in, there are eight thousand
sixty twelve of them in orange steel drawers, not
labeled well: you can’t, say, squeeze in rows
of tiny corn urging up along North Professor,
bottles of daylight leaking in the patient ditch
while robins tug the slippery threads that hold
it all together, this world of crooked fenders
and the Drug Mart checkout lady saying “New York, New York”
as you walk out with your shining trowel and cough drops,
and you can’t put in all the ducks beside the Ouse in ’74 or
Philip Smith calling you Little Youngless at Pleasant School,
well you can put in corn and ducks and surf
but you’ll still be stuck there at the front
of the pointy Swedenborgian chapel facing
the ghosts and nearly in-laws with nothing
but a new dress and a runny nose, might as well
plant the pen among mustard greens.

Why isn’t it real, the bronze dragon of joy?
or is it, crouched in the echoing courtyard,
claws prickling with tender grace, you explain
to the child in your lap that it’s a Symbol
like these words or a Ceremony, Miss Friend
will have the answer in just a few weeks,
skittery answer to the question they already
forgot so it’s OK if the answer’s wrong, right?
L’amour, c’est what? The robins state their business,
all business, bounce to a halt in twilit fields.

Margaret Young is the author of two collections of poetry, Willow from the Willow (Cleveland State Poetry Series) and Almond Town (Bright Hill Press). She was a recipient of an Individual Artist Grant from the Ohio Arts Council in 2005, and currently lives in Beverly Massachusetts.