I’m in Paris at last and I’m heading to Pere Lechaise, the famed cemetery, in a few minutes to visit the tomb of Heloise and Abelard, the doomed lovers whose story has stood the test of time because nothing could stop them from their longing to be together, even though they spent years apart and lonely in that vast devastation. What signifies love more than two people who never give up on their feelings for each other, even when everything in the physical realm is conspiring against them? I give you a poem today by my poetry professor at Vermont College, Tom Absher. It’s from his book Forms of Praise, which holds a series of poems written in their voices–missives to and about each other–that meld into one heartbreaking litany of unrequited passion.
II Living Alone
After working all day in the fields
helping prepare the earth for seed,
I return to my room and wait for sleep.
I have almost given up on reading.
Watching the fading light soften the edges of things
I begin to let go of my loneliness.
A chair sends forth its thin shadow
like a thinker thinking of himself.
The sky runs through its last hues
and miraculously the chair, the room,
we vanish together.
Gradually I hear the monks talking in sleep—
they speak of their fathers, of women, of miracles.
I make the cross in the darkness
and may God forgive me I think only of you.