Wednesday, November 25, 2020

What Makes a Love Poem?

by 2020 Poetry contributor C.L. Nehmer

A poet friend of mine once told me that most of the poems I write are love poems. I don't know if that's true, but her comment did cast many of my poems in a new light. 

"Fireworks" in Bacopa Literary Review 2020 is one such poem.

As it turns out, there are many kinds of love poems, just as there are many kinds of love. Romantic, of course. But more importantly, the built kind of love that happens after many summers, many storms. There's the kind that happens among families--those to whom you're linked--for better or for worse. There is the service that is the love of the aged, and the childlike love that is trust.

It was a beach that brought me to this place. A beach, and a blanket, and Bad Mother Syndrome. That horrible knowledge of not being able to provide the needed thing. From the sand, the world is only beach and sky, so we watched it happen--the one fast moving, slate-gray cloud gliding across an otherwise clear firmament--a minute-long summer storm.

Long enough for the kids to look at me
with that helpless look they used to give me
when I would hold them down for vaccination--that look of
why don't you make it stop, a look as if
I could save them, if I wanted to, and why didn't I--
and what can a mother do.

Our eyes locked through the rain, flight impossible, the safety of the car so many blocks away. I recalled another beach in a less complicated time.

the most wonderful wet
of a July dusk, a slower rain that ran in rivulets
down my teenage face, the fuse of his tongue
setting spark to every synapse in my girl body--
rain and mouth and my unsheltered heart
wanting the moments to go on forever
before Mom would pull up and honk the horn
and we would run towards the beacon of those taillights
into the refuge of her waiting car.

My mother sheltered me in a way I wasn't able to shelter my own kids. And a mother herself is shelter. On our damp blanket we ate sandwiches, dipped our toes in the tide, huddled beneath the fireworks, raw mother love sparking through the synapses of generations.

*   *   *

C.L. Nehmer is the author of The Alchemy of Planes: Amelia Earhart's Life in Verse. Her work has appeared in many journals and anthologies. She was the recipient of the Kay Saunders Memorial Emerging Poet Prize and was a 2019 Best of the Net nominee. She and her husband live with their teenagers and hounds in a Milwaukee suburb. Visit her web site here.

Read C.L. Nehmer's poem "Fireworks"
and other Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction,
Short-Short, and Humor in
Bacopa Literary Review 2020

No comments:

Post a Comment