Differences of Opinion - Wendy Cope
But I’m not insisting you’re some kind of goddess,
(I know you’re suspicious of unspecific love poems).
You’re more like a sunflower,
growing in the courtyard of an old folks home—
you mean things to people on a daily basis,
and this petty poem won’t explain
just how “my favorite” your face is,
(but I wish I’d been your bathroom mirror
the day they took off your braces).
You’re so pretty.
why shouldn’t men look at women
and women look at men
and women look at women
and men look at men
why shouldn’t they
size each other up (as
we used to say)
why isn’t there more
of that looking that
casual catching of
breath in plain
appreciation or rejection why
isn’t there more of it what
old people sometimes ex-
perienced as shock and a
dangerous heartbeat which
sometimes erupted into
love at first sight (as
it is called to this day)
and as old people we must
warn it may once in a startling
while last forever (as it
And so I made for you a kite, enormous,
out of coat hangers, brown paper bags
and the masking tape from that drawer in your kitchen,
and I hung it in the hallway
where you couldn’t hardly miss it,
and I tagged that kite with my words,
Just so you know—
My weird mind wanders and my brave heart breaks.
I’ve nailed some milestones, but I’ve made mistakes,
Because I got more faults than a map of California earthquakes.
I am taking a nap beneath your covers.
Wake me if you like me.
Wake me if you want me
Wake me if you need another poem.
Your once and future lover
has made himself at home.
We live in a modern society. Husbands and wives don’t
grow on trees, like in the old days. So where
does one find love? When you’re sixteen it’s easy,
like being unleashed with a credit card
in a department store of kisses. There’s the first kiss.
The sloppy kiss. The peck.
The sympathy kiss. The backseat smooch. The we
shouldn’t be doing this kiss. The but your lips
taste so good kiss. The bury me in an avalanche of tingles kiss.
The I wish you’d quit smoking kiss.
The I accept your apology, but you make me really mad
sometimes kiss. The I know
your tongue like the back of my hand kiss. As you get
older, kisses become scarce. You’ll be driving
home and see a damaged kiss on the side of the road,
with its purple thumb out. If you
were younger, you’d pull over, slide open the mouth’s
red door just to see how it fits. Oh where
does one find love? If you rub two glances, you get a smile.
Rub two smiles, you get a warm feeling.
Rub two warm feelings and presto-you have a kiss.
Now what? Don’t invite the kiss over
and answer the door in your underwear. It’ll get suspicious
and stare at your toes. Don’t water the kiss with whiskey.
It’ll turn bright pink and explode into a thousand luscious splinters,
but in the morning it’ll be ashamed and sneak out of
your body without saying good-bye,
and you’ll remember that kiss forever by all the little cuts it left
on the inside of your mouth. You must
nurture the kiss. Turn out the lights. Notice how it
illuminates the room. Hold it to your chest
and wonder if the sand inside hourglasses comes from a
special beach. Place it on the tongue’s pillow,
then look up the first recorded kiss in an encyclopedia: beneath
a Babylonian olive tree in 1200 B.C.
But one kiss levitates above all the others. The
intersection of function and desire. The I do kiss.
The I’ll love you through a brick wall kiss.
Even when I’m dead, I’ll swim through the Earth,
like a mermaid of the soil, just to be next to your bones.