CHASTE KISSES AND CONSTELLATIONS                                  

Long love loses the passion of love’s beginning –

it is an unlike love that differs more with each day spent,

the grown oak as to the acorn that has just found vigour

by rooting firm in fertile soil.

Oak that cheats understanding, it barely bends to high winds

and after, blown, refreshed, grows only stronger.


Long love’s beginning is thus elusive,

as page one of some heavy epic history

after turning a thousand pages now grown over,

concealing simple genesis as the silt of flooding chapters thickens.

but a start so clear to mere lookers-on who read no more,

who sense deep bonds between suitors unaware.


I ask the oak to cut right back to unsure sapling

and reach an evening, Cornish autumn, made of

cottage damp, salt sea and watchful friends

who let us walk, just us, after the squeeze of a long day’s drive.

I said sorry I had taken so very long. You thought

I meant so long to end before we’d started.

No! I’d spent too long in sterile solitary debate,

now wanted what, still bruised from old love, I’d feared.


We had not kissed before but did then, quietly,

to signify a wary pledge to trust anew. A few

stars flickered in moonless dark, unseen lips found the other’s;

we barely heard the waves’ light lap, drawn to shaded lovers.


We spent that night in an ancient, plaintive armchair

that had seen better days (and lonely empty nights), where you

taught me the sense and extent of the chaste kiss:

each embrace, a whole world, to be explored limitlessly, freely.

No stepping-stone, no need, to other ways of loving,

no lament of resented limitation.


These were new travels for me and, I think, for you: wandering through

love’s long sunken lanes as old clocks ticked them by.

I did not count but knew the dawn would break

before exploring every contour of your neck, your brow, your face.


This, then, was the start, your lesson on beginnings,

guiding us, wakeful, through that November night,

Learning that love’s affirmation required this gentle vigil –

indeed, repeatedly, to graduate in both art and instinct from

kisses irresistible to lives combined – the better to

look out on this earth and find shelter.


The state of the stars has much to answer (and be thanked) for,

the cause, curator and creator of countless earthly romances

and various other mortal significances. When I have felt trapped,

wrapped tight In the universal inability of men and women

to speak the full beauty of the love of children,

I think of stars and speak inside.


I know, of course, that constellations are not clusters

that the similarity in lustre of, say, five stars disguises

vast differences in distance from the constellation hunter.

But, no matter, the metaphor is no blunter than most

and it pleases me to find in night skies (or a chart will do)

five stars assuming forever constellar relations with each other.


Such playful travesties, though, are not quite whole

for the metaphor must stretch to contemplate, hidden or not,

a sixth star to which the attendant five

pay full, filial, unforced devotions.

Just as our children, ignorant of astral parallels,

pay naturally to you.




Devon Brock

Wed 24th Jul 2019 22:39

Peter, when I see your work come up, I grab a glass of white, find a nice cush place to enjoy, and immerse myself. A wonderful long read on long love. Thanks for this.


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