To a Love Poet
Fortysomething did you say? Or more?
By now, no one could care less either way.
When you swoop into a room, no heads turn,
no cheeks burn, no knowing glances are exchanged,
no eye contact is made. You are no longer
a meaningful contender in the passion stakes.
But a love poet must somehow make love,
if only to language, fondling its contours,
dressing it in slinky tropes, caressing
its letters with the tongue, glimpsing it darkly
as though through a crackling black stocking
or diaphanous blouse, arousing its interest,
varying the rhythm, playing speech against
stanza like leather against skin, stroking words
wistfully, chatting them up, curling fingers
around the long flowing tresses of sentences.
Never again, though, will a living Muse
choose you from the crowd in some romantic city —
Paris, Prague — singling you out, her pouting lips
a fountain where you resuscitate your art.
Not with you in view will she hold court to her mirror,
matching this halterneck with that skirt, changing her mind,
testing other options, hovering between a cashmere
and velvet combination or plain t-shirt and jeans,
watching the clock, listening for the intercom or phone.
Not for your eyes her foam bath, hot wax, hook-snapped lace,
her face creams, moisturisers, streaks and highlights.
Not for your ears the excited shriek of her zip.
Look to the dictionary as a sex manual.
Tease beauty’s features into words that will assuage
the pain, converting you — in this hour of need —
to someone slim and lithe and young and eligible for love again.
by Dennis O'Driscoll
from New and Selected Poems