The Singing Acupuncturist keeps quoting a Browning poem to me about "love me for love's sake," part of the ongoing campaign to get me to think of myself as a spirit rather than as an object that needs to lose ten pounds and get a pedicure. Of course I'm still dwelling in the sense that it's all too late for that, that I've run out of time or spent too much time Doing It Wrong, and a salon blowout might be a better investment than any amount of cultivating inner beauty. Time, as always, will tell.
The Store of Breath
Can those who never knew love as children
Ever truly love others? They tell us no.
But they've always told us no. We've never listened.
I remember times strangers set to care for me
Would try to tempt me with food, and I'd refuse,
Thinking it a trick. I am ashamed now of my rudeness,
As I was then of my need. Could this have been
A pleasure for them, I wonder, like the cat that pushes
His head into your hand, yes, he is wild but soft,
And he believes he's the one who has surrendered,
But it is your hand that delights, you hold the secret
Of that moment of trust, it is a triumph and testament
To your patience, your even breathing, your ability
To keep a soft, appealing tone. You have gone back to dreaming;
It is where you do your work, and you growl
At creatures you chase there. I slow my breath;
And smoothing my skipping pulse, soothe yours.
No one has truly loved us but each other,
But within us we hold centuries of lives, the source.
Here's the Browning (Elizabeth):
If thou must love me, let it be for naught
Except for love's sake only. Do not say,
'I love her for her smile—her look—her way
Of speaking gently,—for a trick of thought
That falls in well with mine, and certes brought
A sense of pleasant ease on such a day'—
For these things in themselves, Belovèd, may
Be changed, or change for thee—and love, so wrought,
May be unwrought so. Neither love me for
Thine own dear pity's wiping my cheeks dry:
A creature might forget to weep, who bore
Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby!
But love me for love's sake, that evermore
Thou mayst love on, through love's eternity.
And the Browning I like best, Robert:
All, that I know
Of a certain star
Is, it can throw
(Like the angled spar)
Now a dart of red,
Now a dart of blue;
Till my friends have said
They would fain see, too,
My star that dartles the red and the blue!
Then it stops like a bird; like a flower, hangs furled:
They must solace themselves with the Saturn above it.
What matter to me if their star is a world?
Mine has opened its soul to me; therefore I love it.