Friday, September 12, 2014

Billy Collins: "Aimless Love"

This morning as I walked along the lakeshore,
I fell in love with a wren
and later in the day with a mouse
the cat had dropped under the dining room table.

In the shadows of an autumn evening,
I fell for a seamstress
still at her machine in the tailor's window,
and later for a bowl of broth,
steam rising like smoke from a naval battle.

This is the best kind of love, I thought,
without recompense, without gifts,
or unkind words, without suspicion,
or silence on the telephone.

The love of the chestnut,
the jazz cap and one hand on the wheel.

No lust, no slam of the door—
the love of the miniature orange tree,
the clean white shirt, the hot evening shower,
the highway that cuts across Florida.

No waiting, no huffiness, or rancor—
just a twinge every now and then

for the wren who had built her nest
on a low branch overhanging the water
and for the dead mouse,
still dressed in its light brown suit.

But my heart is always propped up
in a field on its tripod,
ready for the next arrow.

After I carried the mouse by the tail
to a pile of leaves in the woods,
I found myself standing at the bathroom sink
gazing down affectionately at the soap,

so patient and soluble,
so at home in its pale green soap dish.
I could feel myself falling again
as I felt its turning in my wet hands
and caught the scent of lavender and stone.

"Aimless Love" by Billy Collins, from Aimless Love: A Selection of Poems. © Random House, 2013.

Art credit: "Sudsy Soap Dish," photograph from the website Coastal Plain Soap Company (originally color).



  1. It's the little things and love life is made of. Every small beauty is lit up by our love for the world. But, I didn't think anyone else was entranced by soap, the slick silky feel of it and the smell, standing at the sink, washing my hands and smiling over how good the feel of it, the smell, the joy of being clean.

  2. One of my favorite poems! it reminds me of the virtues of gratitude.

    Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. - Melody Beattie

    The unthankful heart... discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings! - Henry Ward Beecher

    We wait, starving for moments of high magic to inspire us, but life is a banquet of common enchantments - Jacob Nordby


Thank you for participating respectfully in this blog's community of readers.