In our column Poetry Rx, readers write in with a specific emotion, and our resident poets—Sarah Kay, Kaveh Akbar, and Claire Schwartz—take turns prescribing the perfect poems to match. This week, Kaveh Akbar is on the line.
I am an older man. My wife died a few years ago and I miss her terribly, but I am happy with my many friends. However, I am bisexual and a much younger man has fallen in love with me. I like him very much but I feel that he deserves to have a more “appropriate” lover than me; still, I don’t want to give him up. Is there a poem that will help me enjoy his company without having to requite his love and also allow me to not feel guilty?
There is so much going on in your short letter. I’m so sorry you have to carry your wife’s absence—I very literally can’t imagine what that’s like, I have no experiential referent. I hope you are speaking about all this with an actual professional and not just this silly poet drinking tea at his keyboard. But, since you’ve asked me, I must step in and ask you what exactly you mean when you say the man deserves a more “appropriate” lover than you. Is this man an adult? Do you trust his intelligence? If so, then why should you be the arbiter of what he needs, what he deserves? His desire is not yours to muzzle, neither is yours deserving of muzzling.