Skip to content

The book The House of the World has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and is now available on Amazon.

Helen Barker: Simply Love

All I have left of a love story
is a story inside me.
No letters, poems, mementos
are left behind.
A story that now belongs to earth,
a mood, when the day
leaves shadows on the wall,
when my heart acknowledges
she is missing.
Somewhere a trace of her,
a headstone announcing
the last day of her life.
And then it begins.

I close my eyes.
I see her in a sacred plot
where spring grows violets
by her stone.
Summer putting wild flowers
about her,
dandelions, daisies.
She loved the gentleness of flowers.
The way autumn gathered them
and I would rake them up.

I could see in my mind
the tea she was fixing.
I would come into her kitchen
and see her beautiful as she was,
and we would sit by her fireplace
and talk until evening.
Our lives colored each other.

Helen was an open sky.
For all the care of her steps,
she was instantly light
where she went,
and we shared the news.
For me, yesterday,
for her, a faraway window,
where she gently pulled me,
and I would look out
on her world.

A love of children.
Affairs that ended without them.
and a place where her heart
came apart,
and the journey back,
from the terrible sanctum
of a nervous breakdown.
The details of the story
are mine and hers.
She loved me and I loved her.
The choreography was ours.

I told her,
I wanted to marry her,
or rather, I would have married her.
We left it there,
ragged and for the most part sweet.
Like many love stories,
I had to go away,
and she had to go away,
and time,
being short or long,
she vanished,
and I with years left
to live went on.
I was sixteen,
and she was eighty,
a bridge love could not cross.
A door left open.

Published inIndex of all Poems