True Love

It’s always hopeless. The woman is too smart,
or you can’t manage the words. Or the ecstasy sinks
because you bleed the last of each other’s courage
when the morning comes, that balanced minute,
the light spreading across the sheets,
when you perceive the profile of a human being
beyond the drying pleasure. Then you need guts and luck,
luck that she’s the one you could stay naked with,
guts to pull day after fatuous day out of the future.
Once in a while, though, you come close.
That dawn in the hotel opposite the station,
you thought you’d found it, the whole night
almost perfect, flesh, charity, jokes, breakfast
in bed, sleet against the panes, and all the poetry
you’d tenaciously believed in flooding up in you.
But she kept the damned ring on, and you complained,
and then you argued about which train to take next time.
So nothing came of that but a bad conscience
and Christmas cards for half a dozen years.