“My First Love Story”
The minute I heard my first love story
I started looking for you,
not knowing how blind that was.
Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere.
They are in each other all along.
“Sometimes I Do”
In your light, I learn how to love.
In your beauty, how to make poems.
You dance inside my chest,
where no one sees you,
but sometimes I do,
and that light becomes this art.
“The Price of Kissing”
I would love to kiss you.
The price of kissing is your life.
Now my loving is running to my life shouting,
What a bargain, let’s buy it.
“The Most Alive Moment”
The most alive moment comes
when those who love each other
meet each other’s eyes
and in what flows between them.
(This first stanza captures the spark of recognition that comes between lovers, sometimes at the very first sight. Though I don’t consider ours a “love at first sight” story, I still remember the very first time I laid eyes on Tim. He was looking down, but when his eyes came up and met mine, I thought, “Oh.” It felt nothing like love, but certainly like I had just met someone significant in some way I didn’t yet understand.)
To see your face in a crowd of others,
or alone on a frightening street,
I weep for that.
(After a time together, the physical presence of the beloved can bring immediate relief. In the midst of crowds and chaos, the lover is safety, security, home.)
Our tears improve the earth.
The time you scolded me,
your gratitude, your laughing,
always your qualities increase the soul.
(In these lines, Rumi affirms the whole range of emotions and experiences he shares with his beloved. Love is not just happiness, but tears and difficulties. What is essential is that they “increase the soul” of the other and their ability to fully alive and fully human.)
Seeing you is a wine
that does not muddle, or numb.
(This love is delicious, intoxicating and necessary – wine was the essential liquid of his time – but it is not an escape. It does not allow him to deny, or keep him from reality.)
We sit inside the cypress shadow
where amazement and clear thought
twine their slow growth into us.
(All lovers have private places they go to while away the hours in dreams and conversations. True lovers are edified by that time away and come back with greater clarity about themselves and the world around them.)
Is anyone else thinking, “Finally, a love poem!” or is it just me? Honestly, I’ve held out for a full ten days, which I thought was pretty impressive. But perhaps you haven’t even noticed, since so many of my poems have been about Love: love of God, neighbor, self, or the world. I’m not going to count “Funeral Blues,” since it was about love after loss, not love that could be enjoyed in the here and now.
But romantic love is what most of us associate with poetry. Just about every goofy, poetic stereotype has to do with a love-sick soul who pours his, or her heart out in bad verse. It has been a classic sign of infatuation and the undying devotion that accompanies it. We’ve probably all scribbled some of that sweet nonsense ourselves, either in a journal, or if we were really brave, in what we hope by now is a long-lost love letter. If we’re really lucky, we might have even received a stanza, or two that made our hearts race and our cheeks flush. The thrill of being seen in our best light is such a pleasurable one!
I don’t care if that kind of sentimental drivel gives poetry a bad rap. Let lovers write! Let Hallmark cards reign! Let roses be red and violets be blue! As long as we can have love poems like these from Rumi, the genre will not be completely disgraced and rest assured, a few more are coming this month from some other poets as well!