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Please Understand (A Bachelor’s Valentine)

by Stephen Dunn


When, next day, I found one of your earrings,
slightly chipped, on the steps leading up to
but also away from my house,

I couldn’t decide if I should return it to you
or keep it for myself in this copper box.
Then I remembered there’s always another choice

and pushed it with my foot into the begonias.
If you’re the kind who desires fragile mementos
of these perilous journeys we take,

that’s where you’ll find it. But don’t knock
on my door. I’ll probably be sucking the pit
out of an apricot, or speaking long distance

to myself. Best we can hope for on days like this
is that the thunder and dark clouds will veer elsewhere,
and the unsolicited sun will break through

just before it sets, a beautiful dullness to it.
Please understand. I’ve never been able to tell
what’s worth more—what I want or what I have.

 

Stephen Dunn is the author of fourteen collections of poetry, including the recent Everything Else in the World (Norton). His Different Hours won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize. (10/2007)


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