The Language of Love
“Without arts, the inner life would wither.” Mark Strand
Take three bus transfers anywhere.
Get off at the last possible spot.
Look around—you will be surrounded
by Chicago, but you won’t be lost.
Doubtless you will see Mark Strand
wandering State Street in an overcoat.
Maybe you see a thousand such poets,
falling from the sky like a Magritte painting.
Open your umbrella to protect your face
from their tears. Watch as their broken
legs and blood smears the sidewalk.
Step over their bodies.
Don’t steal their bowler hats.
Walk up to Strand and shake his hand.
Fan the inner flame of art—protect
your fragile and illuminated heart.
This poem was first published in Two Cities Review.
Caroline Johnson has two poetry chapbooks and more than 100 poems in print. A nominee for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, she has won numerous national poetry awards, including the 2012 Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row Poetry Contest, and her poetry has been featured on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. A former English teacher, she is president of Poets & Patrons of Chicago. Her full-length collection of poems, The Caregiver (Holy Cow! Press, 2018), was inspired by years of family caregiving. Visit her at www.caroline-johnson.com.
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