That time I thought I was in love and calmly said so was not much different from the time I was truly in love and slept poorly and spoke out loud to the wall and discovered the hidden genius of my hands. And the times I felt less in love, less than someone, were, to be honest, not so different either. Each was ridiculous in its own way and each was tender, yes, sometimes even the false is tender. I am astounded by the various kisses we’re capable of. Each from different heights diminished, which is simply the law. And the big bruise from the longer fall looked perfectly white in a few years. That astounded me most of all.
From “Between Angels” by Stephen Dunn (W. W. Norton: $15.95; 111 pp.). Dunn’s previous books include “Work & Love,” “A Circus of Needs,” and “Full of Lust and Good Usage.” His last collection of poems, “Local Time,” was selected for the National Poetry Series. He has been awarded the Levinson Prize for Poetry and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. Dunn teaches at Stockton State College in New Jersey.
Stephen Dunn, 1989. Reprinted by permission of W. W. Norton.