Love's Last

          by Christian Wiman

Love's last urgency is earth

and grief is all gravity

and the long fall always

back to earliest hours

that exist nowhere

but in one's brain.

From the hard-packed

pile of old-mown grass,

from boredom, from pain,

a boy's random slash

unlocks a dark ardor

of angry bees

that link the trees

and block his way home.

I like to hold him holding me,

mystery mastering fear,

so young, standing unstung

under what survives of sky.

I learned too late how to live.

Child, teach me how to die.

David LaMotte


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Christian Wiman is editor of Poetry Magazine.  This poem is from his latest collection, Once in the West. You can hear him read it, beautifully, in his conversation with Bill Moyers on "Love, Faith, and Cancer."   Wiman has been living "for a number of years" with a rare and incurable form of blood cancer. See also his poem "After the Diagnosis."