National Poetry Month, Day 19: Kenneth Koch
Today’s poem is a favorite of mine. It’s the poem my brother read at my wedding, in fact. A good love poem is a difficult thing to do well–love, it turns out, is not unique, and often poems that are truly about love–and not about, say, the loss of love–can sound trite very quickly.
But Kenneth Koch’s “To You,” wow–“I am crazier than shirttails/In the wind, when you’re near” and “I think I am bicycling across an Africa of green and white fields/Always, to be near you….”
Via this link, you can hear this poem being read, and I advise listening, since, read aloud, this poem takes on an entirely new quality, very conversational, intimate, confessional. Enjoy.
To YouI love you as a sheriff searches for a walnutThat will solve a murder case unsolved for yearsBecause the murderer left it in the snow beside a windowThrough which he saw her head, connecting withHer shoulders by a neck, and laid a redRoof in her heart. For this we live a thousand years;For this we love, and we live because we love, we are notInside a bottle, thank goodness! I love you as aKid searches for a goat; I am crazier than shirttailsIn the wind, when you?re near, a wind that blows fromThe big blue sea, so shiny so deep and so unlike us;I think I am bicycling across an Africa of green and white fieldsAlways, to be near you, even in my heartWhen I?m awake, which swims, and also I believe that youAre trustworthy as the sidewalk which leads me toThe place where I again think of you, a newHarmony of thoughts! I love you as the sunlight leads the prowOf a ship which sailsFrom Hartford to Miami, and I love youBest at dawn, when even before I am awake the sunReceives me in the questions which you always pose.? Kenneth Koch, from Modern American Poets: Their Voices and Visions (Random House, 1987)