Graybeard's Love Poem

Anthony DiPietro • Poetry


If I were a much younger man, I would write
you a love poem in which, while you and the city
sleep, I steal manhole covers, plasma-cut them into hearts,
weld, and arrange them as sculpture on your lawn—
or maybe I’d scale the polar ice caps, chisel

an ornament the shape of a snow globe,
just for you to marvel at when Greenland’s
gone ocean—or maybe I’d nurse to health
the skinny rabbits who crowd your neighborhood,
fill water bowls, cradle them, take selfies for Instagram,

joyful as a newborn’s father—or maybe
I’d just make a trail of lemon peel from your mailbox
to my waiting musky self, hitched into brass and leather
and tasteful athletic gear, cucumber-pear-mint martinis
sweating on the night stand. And if I were a much older man,

this poem would sound like a prayer I breathe
with Bach beneath it, slow, staccato violin, cello—
or like the reverie of bees who gather with rapture
at work in the highbush blueberries.
As it happens, we meet at an age when we’ve

belonged to others before—let’s not pause
to count how many. Clearly I’m no longer
the guy in the dorm next door who once
gave serious thought to an eyebrow piercing.
You prefer me this way—gray beard slowly

turning white. And as it happens, you’re the one
I tell my bad dreams to, who eats my leftover pasta
after midnight, who’s been bewitched by my habitual
singing on long drives. I’ve helped you
back a rented truck into a narrow space

in Cambridge Square, carried your bed and antique mirror
all the way upstairs, filled your bicycle tires
with plenty of air—and one dim afternoon at Lake George,
we made love on an egg-crate mattress
in a thin-walled tin-roof cabin pelted with soft rain. This is easy—

this singing, you need to know, will not stop.

Emily Gilbert