Today, I am publishing a love poem that is a kind of a hurricane of love. It includes romantic love, of course, and it can easily be read as a poem about romantic love.
But then again this poem can be read in many ways. It is a love poem so it is, of course, romantic. But there are many types of love. And if you read the poem closely enough you will see that it need not be read exclusively as a romantic poem. It need not even be seen as a poem from a man to a woman. The line, “Though you may never be my wife” can easily be altered to read, “Though I may never be your wife”. However, as Frost says, I cannot be one traveler and tread two paths. So, being a man, I have chosen the version you see here.
More important even than the words, though, is the tone and the form of the poem. For those who have never lived in hurricane country, as I have, for nearly 25 years, the image of a 2×4 plank of wood nailed across windows will mean nearly nothing. To me, it means everything – the difference between life and death, the tiny barrier we poor humans put against a raging storm that can devastate an entire city in hours, perhaps even in minutes!
The image the poem seeks to evoke is that of a man, like a storm, sweeping a woman off her feet – though, perhaps, with more gentleness. The first line is, in a way, the calm of the storm. The eye of the storm is zeroing in, so to speak. The next 3 lines seek to sow confusion as well as confidence. The second line sets up an expectation only to dash it, in the third line. The third line surprises, perhaps even angers, only to immediately please, in the very next line. And by the end of the fourth line the storm has begun, in the woman’s heart.
The next stanza is the 2×4. Two nails on each side, so to speak, hammering the board into place, providing protection from the storm, even though it has already begun. The board is a little rickety as all such boards are, no matter how professionally they are nailed to the window-frame. The idea that there may never be a marriage suggests the impermanence of the relationship but the desire to get drunk on kisses also establishes the deep intensity of the relationship, making the very idea of marriage seem hopelessly weak and inadequate.
The final stanza, the “passing” or dying of the storm evokes both, laughter and tears. There is nothing funny about the aftermath of a storm. Anyone who has ever been in one, especially someone who has been there before, during, and after the storm, can attest to that. The debris, the destruction, that a massive storm leaves behind is mind-shattering. Physically, perhaps, a person or a city can recover from it. But it is an experience indelibly and painfully etched into the mind. And yet, after the grief of the experience becomes somewhat manageable, one can remember the funny and/or strange incidents that happened at the time, and laugh at them. Similarly, after the death of a loved one, when the storm of grief has passed, it is possible, not just to look back but to look up, to throw back one’s head and laugh with a full heart.