After the Movie
by Marie Howe
My friend Michael and I are walking home arguing about the movie.
He says that he believes a person can love someone
and still be able to murder that person.
I say, No, that’s not love. That’s attachment.
Michael says, No, that’s love. You can love someone, then come
to a day
when you’re forced to think “it’s him or me”
think “me” and kill him.
I say, Then it’s not love anymore.
Michael says, It was love up to then though.
I say, Maybe we mean different things by the same word.
Michael says, Humans are complicated: love can exist
even in the murderous heart.
I say that what he might mean by love is desire.
Love is not a feeling, I say. And Michael says, Then what
We’re walking along West 16th Street—a clear unclouded
night—and I hear my voice
repeating what I used to say to my husband: Love is action,
I used to say to him.
Simone Weil says that when you really love you are able to
look at someone you want to eat and not eat them.
Janis Joplin says, take another little piece of my heart now baby.
Meister Eckhardt says that as long as we love images we are
doomed to live in purgatory.
Michael and I stand on the corner of 6th Avenue saying goodnight.
I can’t drink enough of the tangerine spritzer I’ve just
again and again I bring the cold can to my mouth and suck
the stuff from
the hole the flip top made.
What are you doing tomorrow? Michael says.
But what I think he’s saying is “You are too strict. You
are a nun.”
Then I think, Do I love Michael enough to allow him to think
these things of me even if he’s not thinking them?
Above Manhattan, the moon wanes, and the sky turns clearer
Although the days, after the solstice, have started to lengthen,
we both know the winter has only begun.