you glow on the street like a neon rasberry

I don’t have time to linger on this post, unfortunately, but here is a poem by another strong female poet who knows how to pack quite a beautiful punch. Marge Piercy was born in Detroit only 8 years after Philip Levine (see previous post) and was the first in her family to attend college. She has written so many poems that it was hard for me to choose just one, so if you like this one, please let it guide you to others…

“To Have Without Holding”–Marge Piercy from The Moon is Always Female

Learning to love differently is hard,
love with the hands wide open, love
with the doors banging on their hinges,
the cupboard unlocked, the wind
roaring and whimpering in the rooms
rustling the sheets and snapping the blinds
that thwack like rubber bands
in an open palm.

It hurts to love wide open
stretching the muscles that feel
as if they are made of wet plaster,
then of blunt knives, then
of sharp knives.

It hurts to thwart the reflexes
of grab, of clutch; to love and let
go again and again. It pesters to remember
the lover who is not in the bed,
to hold back what is owed to the work
that gutters like a candle in a cave
without air, to love consciously,
conscientiously, concretely, constructively.

I can’t do it, you say it’s killing
me, but you thrive, you glow
on the street like a neon raspberry,
You float and sail, a helium balloon
bright bachelor’s button blue and bobbing
on the cold and hot winds of our breath,
as we make and unmake in passionate
diastole and systole the rhythm
of our unbound bonding, to have
and not to hold, to love
with minimized malice, hunger
and anger moment by moment balanced.


2 thoughts on “you glow on the street like a neon rasberry

  1. To be honest, I resist and somewhat resent the didactic tone of this poem. I find the phrase “diastole and systole” and the final line particularly off-putting. I get the impression that the speaker is on higher moral ground, which is not a pleasant feeling for me. Or maybe that’s the point: it’s hard for me to learn to love this poem because, like everybody else, I have my peculiar set of problems to overcome.

    Here is my second favorite love poem of all time.

    The Couple
    by Malena Morling

    When Emil fell away inside himself,
    Greta put her forehead to his
    and shouted: “Vi träffas hos Gud.”
    What she said was untranslatable.
    She could have meant they would meet somewhere
    or in the earth
    where humans decay faster than dolls,
    where the happiness of trees begins.

  2. I have always loved this poem… it’s one of my favorites.

    I have a period in my past, a particular spring & summer, which I consider my “neon raspberry” period. I was that neon raspberry.

    I think Piercy is an amazing poet.

    That Malena Morling poem is absolutely gorgeous.

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