Monday, November 16, 2015

Rhina Espaillat: "Guidelines"

Here’s what you need to do, since time began:
find something—diamond-rare or carbon-cheap,
it’s all the same—and love it all you can.

It should be something close—a field, a man,
a line of verse, a mouth, a child asleep—
that feels like the world’s heart since time began. 

Don’t measure much or lay things out or scan;
don’t save yourself for later, you won’t keep;
spend yourself now on loving all you can. 

It’s going to hurt. That was the risk you ran
with your first breath; you knew the price was steep,
that loss is what there is, since time began 

subtracting from your balance. That’s the plan,
too late to quibble now, you’re in too deep.
Just love what you still have, while you still can.

Don’t count on schemes, it’s far too short a span
from the first sowing till they come to reap.
One way alone to count, since time began:
love something, love it hard, now, while you can. 

"Guidelines" by Rhina Espaillat, from Her Place in These Designs (Truman State University Press, 2008). Text as posted at Ronnow Poetry.

Art credit: "Delfina and Dimas," oil painting by Diego Rivera.

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