With, Within, Without

Love is a good subject for a short story but not a good subject for a
poem. Death is the only good subject for poems.

And yet the first writing impulse, when in love, is to write a love

Ladybugs with their spots, butterflies with their secret inner
wing-surfaces-the world is very beautiful. This is also a good subject
for a poem because our consciousness of it is finite.

Ditto love. But this realization must be in the poem for it to be a
good poem.

Sixth grade-we have to memorize the prepositions. The first nervous boy
forgets the middle half of the list, pauses, and solemnly speaks the
last three. No one forgets the ending. It is a litany.

That year I stole a spelling quiz out of the desk of a boy named Biz, I
loved him so much. In my mind he had written the words to me. In my mind it was the first love letter.

But now the quiz is gone, I am old. Soon no one will know how my small heart beat only for him.

My eagerness, each day, to read the mail: an eagerness to find the poem
I could never quite imagine he wrote.

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Sarah Manguso