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.
© Ellis Rosen
I have finally settled with the great love of my life. I have been with him through joys and losses, both in my life and his, and we have reached the place where our paths merge and become one. We have a home together. We have made promises to each other—long-term promises that I would never have thought possible to fulfill. I feel full, overflowing, for possibly the first time in my life. Is there a poem for this feeling, like the road ahead is paved in gold? Like a large piece of the puzzle of my life has finally clicked into place?
Love Is Wonderful
Congratulations to you on your glorious fullness, the impossible luck that has found you. I just got married last weekend and can very much relate to the feeling of “a large piece of the puzzle” finally clicking into place. It’s a load-bearing gratitude in my life, as it sounds to be in yours.
For you, I offer “Errata” by Kevin Young, a poem I’ve been reading and rereading since my wedding. It begins,
Baby, give me just
one more hiss
We must lake it fast
I want to cold you
in my harms
In the speaker’s great love fugue, “You make me weak in the knees” becomes “You wake me meek / in the needs.” It’s a deeply clever, desperately hopeful love poem that shows language buckling under the weight of desire.
In A Year with Swollen Appendices, Brian Eno writes, “The blues singer with the cracked voice is the sound of an emotional cry too powerful for the throat that releases it. The excitement of grainy film, of bleached-out black and white, is the excitement of witnessing events too momentous for the medium assigned to record them.” For Young’s speaker, the gravity of desire is strong enough to pull apart his medium, creating a new constellation of private language native to his specific love. Great affection often produces this: invented vernacular to accommodate unprecedented love. In this way, “Errata” exemplifies Horace’s pronouncement that a great poem should delight as well as instruct. I hope it might do a bit of each for you and your partner.
—KA Read More