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Aimless Love by Billy Collins

You would love it here, is what I wrote on most of the postcards I sent last week. I realise now that that could’ve been a waste of space, a waste of words. Because that is the point of postcards, isn’t it. I am sending you everything I love in this moment, hoping that a piece of paper will convey the enormity of all of what I’m feeling. I walked around the city trying to locate the post, carrying my heart in my pocket, my letter naked and for everyone to see—from the clerk to the postman to your neighbour, and every roving eye that lands on my handwriting, before it finally gets to you.

You would love it here, I wrote. But what I really meant: I fell in love with a city, dammit, and I am leaving the next day and I am shattered and I don’t want to go which is why I also wrote myself saying everything is worth it to be here saying you will be here again someday saying you have been here and it is good and would you please forgive yourself for not being able to take with you everything you love—

Aimless Love
Billy Collins

This morning as I walked along the lakeshore,
I fell in love with a wren
and later in the day with a mouse
the cat had dropped under the dining room table.

In the shadows of an autumn evening,
I fell for a seamstress
still at her machine in the tailor’s window,
and later for a bowl of broth,
steam rising like smoke from a naval battle.

This is the best kind of love, I thought,
without recompense, without gifts,
or unkind words, without suspicion,
or silence on the telephone.

The love of the chestnut,
the jazz cap and one hand on the wheel.

No lust, no slam of the door –
the love of the miniature orange tree,
the clean white shirt, the hot evening shower,
the highway that cuts across Florida.

No waiting, no huffiness, or rancor –
just a twinge every now and then

for the wren who had built her nest
on a low branch overhanging the water
and for the dead mouse,
still dressed in its light brown suit.

But my heart is always propped up
in a field on its tripod,
ready for the next arrow.

After I carried the mouse by the tail
to a pile of leaves in the woods,
I found myself standing at the bathroom sink
gazing down affectionately at the soap,

so patient and soluble,
so at home in its pale green soap dish.
I could feel myself falling again
as I felt its turning in my wet hands
and caught the scent of lavender and stone.

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