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Love Makings

(Michelle Phillips)

Yet there is no one thing, no attribute/Of yours that I can fix on, nothing/I can abstract, describe, isolate…”


Do you know how beautiful you are 

To me? And it is more than features,

Physique, your bearing—although all

These are fine in you, and I admire such 

Qualities of your person, your presence—

Yet there is no one thing, no attribute 

Of yours that I can fix on, nothing

I can abstract, describe, isolate,

That might answer, explain, this 

That I feel, in my response to you.


So is your beauty—the quality I can

Only partly see—is this merely untethered 

Functioning in me? No more than the usual 

Concurrence of sexual excitement? Perhaps 

Avoidance, a screening, of the unadmitted,  

Hidden—the chosen shortfalls, regrets 

In myself—in the hope, imagining, of grace,

Redemption, via another in my life?

Then reaching for you in my admiration,

My desire, would be mere personal escape.


It can’t be this—or any such explanation—

As long as you retain the character

You have, of having no dependence

On anything in me. And this is not

That tendency to pedestal the female,

To form an object of worship versus  

The diminishing: It is, I sense, that your

Beauty is an alteration in the world,

An event attached to you, that you, 

As yourself, could never be aware of.       



Your high heels, the flare, the pleat and 

Pattern of your skirt, the lace and pastel— 

The subtle sheen—the very flimsiness—

Of your underwear: Why should these—

The stereotypes of female dress—matter

In the least to me? And yet they do: 

They fascinate, excite, arouse in me 

The impulse and content of reverie, 

Wonder, about what it is that presents you

In this compulsion, this actuality, to me. 


True, these have your choice, your taste,

But, true too, they would be interchangeable 

With those of another: They are the covering,

The additional, the superficial stimulation

In social mores, disclosed in the personal:

And yet, these that hide and reveal, 

Which do they do more? Is it that you,

Without such femininity in periphery, 

Would be mere body, a commonality, 

Or do these falsify, hide, the unique in you?


I look and think now that there can be no 

Knowing of another without acceptance of 

Partition, obtrusion, in between: And so

The concealing, the positioning of fabric—

Delicate as it may be—is essential 

To revelation, and there can be nothing 

Known but it will, must be, appearance 

Only, some dressing of the naked,

Or that there is no nakedness, but all

Is as your nylon, cotton, lacework, is.



The mound of flesh between your thighs,

Its soft covering of hair, lips that open 

As if to kiss, your warmth, your invitation,

Are more than body—although your own,

Not any—but are the mystery of all

Disclosure, revelation, the opportunity

Of entry into experience, knowledge,

Of the created, the world in another, and

The world briefly inhabited, loved in its

Materiality, known as yours, nothing other.


Surrounded by you, held in the clasp

Of difference, in which I move and you,

Accepting of me, respond, moving too,

I am figured in an immensity of wonder,

A part of what I am not, an imagined and

Material being, allowed to play in both,

And alive, it seems, in and beyond myself:

In and beyond you, as a free traveler  

In self and world, rediscovering what is

Known, and that I visit, never inhabiting.


So you are discovery to me, new evidence 

Of the mortal, reassurance that its fact,

Its brevity, is no failure of the beautiful, but 

Consequence of the human, of the limits 

Set to my existence, as always being other—

One formed in passing, stilled in activity,

Fulfilled always in the incomplete

Of seeming possibility—yet is an engagement

Of vitality beyond comprehension, that

Has its own life in this humble vessel.  



Your femaleness obsesses me, that we

Are alike and yet other in a common

World: Or my obsession may be a wonder,

Question, a doubt, about the world:

That it can be, and yet not be the same 

For one and for another, for you and

For me. Or do we, in being together,

Bring the world into wholeness, complete

The parts in each other, overcoming its

Division, grounding what is in what is not?


How abstract all my thinking is: a means,

Or an attempt, to solve something without

Solution: that what is, is, with no explanation,

But remains always in its otherness, as you

In being female, and this—my constant

Attempt to know you—is both will, and

Failure of will, to enter into the difference 

Of the world, and my penetration of you—

Body into body in willing combination—  

Intensifies separation even as it joins.


Being within you, hidden in your flesh,

Mouth to mouth, in our close embracing,

Presses at the impossibility of surmounting

Physicality, yet enacts thought and feeling,

That you and I are one—a state we know

In our mutuality of word and action, 

Every gesture of our caring—and is, thus, 

Our allowed participation in that plenitude 

Of love where male and female have no use, 

No meaning, and are not parts of life.


Harold Jones is a New Zealander, educated at Cambridge University, where he was awarded an Exhibition to read English. For 20 years and, more recently, another ten, he sent no work for publication, preferring to work at its development. His work has appeared in major poetry journals in the United Kingdom and New Zealand, and has won the attention of leading critics and poets, among them, Ted Hughes: “I hear a real voice, a real movement of mind cutting through resistances.” Recent work appears in Merion West and VoegelinView.

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