Poem of the Week | October 24, 2016

This week, we are excited to offer a new poem by James Harms. Harms is the author of nine books of poetry including, most recently, Comet Scar (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2012), What to Borrow, What to Steal (Marick Press, 2011), and the forthcoming Rowing with Wings (Carnegie Mellon University Press). His awards include a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and three Pushcart Prizes. He teaches in the MFA Program at West Virginia University, where he chairs the Department of English.
Author’s note:

Thankfully, an aubade requires little explanation. Here’s the Poetry Foundation’s definition: “A love poem or song welcoming or lamenting the arrival of the dawn.” So there you go.

This is obviously a love poem, and it’s also a lament, since dawn means the lovers will soon have to part. I quote (and, I suppose, invoke) Shakespeare’s Sonnet 29, since the end of that poem is so inspiring: Loving someone really does create a force that pushes back against the stuff in life that causes suffering. And there’s always suffering. Let’s hope there’s always love.


Aubade (Lisa Lisa Lisa)


Sometimes I kiss the inch
of air above your body
warmed by your skin.
Or I feel your heat
from across the room
where I stand stiff
as a robot in the metallic
air of moonlight, hand flat
against the windowpane
as if to feel light pass
through glass. Why
am I still that robot,
aware of what I can’t feel?
If I say your name
three times my voice
becomes a meadowlark’s,
not the sad creak
of a mechanical man.
So here I am with wings—
here I am, a robot boy
and his dream of singing.
I watch you sleep and feel
the light cool against
my hand, my hand
that soon will warm itself
with your body
as I search again for what
I know is there:
a tattooed lark sketched
in the curve beneath
your hip, the notes
of a song trailing
around your waist like
the frailest belt,
“hymns at heaven’s gate”
that you and I can hear
though only at daybreak
and only as we kiss, preparing
once again to part,
promising to return.
I promise. Please tell me
you promise, too.