Variations: A Love Poem
What is it that makes the human face,
bit of secret,
lighted flesh, open up the earth?
                             —Galway Kinnell

I have seen your face before
not like now, but plain
and lacking some dimension.
I didn’t struggle then,
your eyes not open, your face
not a mirror resolving small secrets.

Now you are a dream
inside a storm.
Your face has gravity,
an undertow aimed and reaching
in me. You tempt me
like the rocky edge of cliffs.

I watch your face define
a word lacking pronunciation,
the language impossible
to fling through speech.
I feel a fine wind
filling my skin like sails.

I free-fall through
your eyes and enter
a dark crevice in the earth;
the cool walls spill into night sky
pricked with stars.

No one speaks here.
There is no need for sound.
All we have are eyes and stars,
bright words night brings
storming beneath our skin.

All I have to give you
is my only truth. It is free
and requires no belief:

I live in the earth and crawl
through thickets of roots
on cold rock.
I look for dampness
or air in a movement through caves.

Your face, a burning star, opens up
the earth and warms my skin.
The word for this is love.