I pine. There is an obstacle to our love.

Every time I hear the postman, I think: At last, the letter!
He has overcome the obstacle—

(It is a large obstacle, an actual alp, with a tree line
and sheer rock face streaked with snow even in July)

—for love of me! For three years, nine decades, and one century
or so, there has been no letter. I still wait for the letter.

But lately I wonder if my predicament is outside the human,
neither noble nor farcical; if my heart courts pain

because it aims for immortality, something grander
than I can imagine. Most of what I imagine,

what I want, is small: Hands with mine in the sink, washing dishes,
the smell of wool, feet tangling mine in bed. I know

the gods punish the proud, but I do not yet know
why they punish the humble. Although after all

it is not humble to ask, every minute or so, for happiness.

This Issue

November 2, 2006