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"Aimless Love", by Billy Collins

Updated: Mar 8, 2021

Thanks to my dear friend Toni Goodman for sharing this poem with me.

We are very close to Valentine's Day, and I feel pretty mixed about these celebrations, for various reasons. Thank you Toni for bringing a smile to my face, and for reminding me that love is more than we may think.

I hope you will enjoy reading and listening to it.

Aimless Love Billy Collins

This morning as I walked along the lakeshore, I fell in love with a wren and later in the day with a mouse the cat had dropped under the dining room table. In the shadows of an autumn evening, I fell for a seamstress still at her machine in the tailor’s window, and later for a bowl of broth, steam rising like smoke from a naval battle. This is the best kind of love, I thought, without recompense, without gifts, or unkind words, without suspicion, or silence on the telephone. The love of the chestnut, the jazz cap and one hand on the wheel. No lust, no slam of the door – the love of the miniature orange tree, the clean white shirt, the hot evening shower, the highway that cuts across Florida. No waiting, no huffiness, or rancor – just a twinge every now and then for the wren who had built her nest on a low branch overhanging the water and for the dead mouse, still dressed in its light brown suit. But my heart is always propped up in a field on its tripod, ready for the next arrow.

After I carried the mouse by the tail to a pile of leaves in the woods, I found myself standing at the bathroom sink gazing down affectionately at the soap, so patient and soluble, so at home in its pale green soap dish. I could feel myself falling again as I felt its turning in my wet hands and caught the scent of lavender and stone.

from Nine Horses, Random House, 2003

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My lavender bar of soap. Belmont, California 2021

About Billy Collins

Watch Billy Collins reading this poem

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