Great and Precious and Lonely

I have discovered the secret
Of being great and precious
And lonely.

They say the great and precious
Must be lonely, for they must
Be alone.

But this we had already counted
And weighed and measured and
Found wanting.

Neither greatness nor preciousness
Can exist in a vacuum; they require
Communal significance.

And the reverse cannot be true,
For not all the lonely are great
Or precious.

This claim is, of course, a worldly one;
I will not speak on Heaven’s behalf in
Such matters.

To be great, a man must overcome
Any obstacle, any man, any fear,
And himself.

The task of conquering oneself
Is the greatest test of all for even
The saints.

But greatness only derives its meaning
From recognition by another, seen only
In relationship.

And to be precious, the object must
Enjoy the privilege of possessing
A subject.

That mutual possession we call love
When it lifts us high, though it could
Do otherwise.

But to be held as precious by another is,
As it is said, the greatest thing: to love and
Be loved.

And yet only today, I feel truly great
For I have been esteemed as such by one
Who matters.

And today, I knew I was held precious
For the letter she had written and sent
Weeks ago.

Today, I was alone with my thoughts,
Without one for whom my soul longs, and
Am lonely.

So the secret of being all these together–
Of being great and precious and lonely–
Is you.

Write Me Your Love

If I ever thought I did not need you,
If I for a moment forgot my affection,
If I almost give up on that which is us,
Write me a letter with your love.

Not yet has any such ill-favored thought
My mind crossed in terrible rumination,
Nor shall it while I control my faculties
And may wrestle them into submission.

For though you are now far from me,
Your heart has reached across the page,
Touched my own, and lifted up my soul.
With a word alone, I feel your presence.

Write on, loved and lover; send your love
With prose and poem, with pun and wit,
For I can never have enough of you:
Of your words, of your love, of your self.

Approaching Absence

I dread the approaching absence from you:
The coming days–into weeks, into months–
When we are sundered by ocean swell and wave.

I see the dread of my leaving in your eyes
While I watch you count the calendar days left
Before I part–for not long, I swear!… I hope.

While young, I listened to comforting words:
“Absence makes the heart grow fonder”,
But I learned–not quickly enough–its lie.

Other sailors and soldiers know all too well
The sacrifices that go unseen by public eye,
But some felt more deeply than physical wounds.

For words alone cannot bind two as one–
Though words be sometimes all that is left–
So we patch ourselves together as best we can.

But for us, do not think there is no cause for hope,
For where love is, there hope may dwell also,
And love is where we are–together or apart.

What Holds the Year?

How much the year might hold
For lives now intertwining;
How bright the sun these days–
No clouds, just silver lining.

Walks beside the river,
Sushi nights with Youji-san;
We’ll see the Springtime bloom
And hear the nightingale song.

Long days near the shoreline,
Sharing picnics in the park;
On our sun-touched bodies
Summer will have left its mark.

Trees will change their colors–
Oranges, yellows, and reds;
Sunbeams make a halo
To grace the fairest of heads.

Snow will cover city,
Crunching beneath strangers’ feet;
We will sit together
Enjoying a low fire’s heat.

For all of this we hope,
But year’s end is far away;
For now, we rest content
Knowing ‘morrow and a day.

Our Yokohama Walks

I begin at the end
Because it’s the last thing I remember,
And I think about it
As I walk home–alone, not lonely.
It’s you and it’s me,
Standing close in the subway station,
Lightly clasping hands
With smiles that never leave our lips.

Not long enough ago,
We two had looked at our watch faces–
Which was a mistake–
And forced ourselves to admit the time.
So we walked together
Arm in arm, me warming your hands,
Toward the train
Which would take you away from me.

We walked slowly
Along the waterfront through the park,
Through city streets
Lit up and beginning to look like Christmas.
We traded stories
Of embarrassment found in folly and youth,
And of loves lost
For the better–for the wrongs they gave us.

At times we walked
In perfect silence, taking in the city lights
And bustling passers-by
Rushing off to whither-they-will around us.
But we two alone
Had purpose and meaning in our world
Of thought and feeling–
Of beating hearts and taciturn glances.

When I first saw you
Tonight, I felt as I do every night we meet:
My pulse quickened
And my mind emptied itself of all but you.
You walked serenely
Toward me, and I forced myself to not run,
Telling myself that
I’d survive those last seconds without you.

I’ll end at the beginning
So it can be the last thought on my mind;
Tonight when I dream,
I’ll remember the time I first saw you:
The girl across the table
Who said barely a word to me all night,
But from whom
I could not tear away my eyes or my heart.

A Garden Locked

Perhaps the great and precious are lonely
Because they have understood togetherness.
More, they have seen gracious possibility
Dashed against the rocks of their hard souls.

For I have found the one my soul loves,
And I will watch her run from me in the end.
How could I restrain her–trap her to myself–
The eventual cause of such sorrow and trials?

The prophetess dreams of which she knows not,
Though we have our self-averse suspicions.
Better for her to flee from her unwilling tormentor,
Though neither yet know what she might endure.

We may believe ourselves heroic in self-sacrifice;
The truth is much closer to melancholic resignation.
But even now, I self-prostrate in humility and patience,
Praying that Eve-unspoiled could love a fallen Adam.