August: How to Love Like the Lake Loves

Today is the first day of August and I have decided that this month’s theme is love. Not so much romantic love, but a wide range of definitions of what it could mean to love in this time of seemingly intractable divisions and impending, ever nearing collapse. This topic is much needed. I am tired of letting hate or fear or dismissal or disgust at how terrible some people seem to be dictate how I see and experience the world. I want to give as little energy to those negative, draining feelings as possible. I want to let love win and I’m interested in exploring the wide range of ways poets express it. This topic is partly inspired by Ed Bok Lee’s poem “Water in Love” and a possible title I have for a poem or a collection: How to Love Like the Lake Loves

august 1, 2021

Poems Collected About Love

Ideas About Love

  • letting go (like leaves falling off the trees in fall) = faith = grace = god (lucille clifton)
  • dictionary definitions: a feeling of strong personal attachment due to affection or kinship ties; strong liking for; tender and passionate; no points in tennis game
  • trite — birds, bees, June, moon, roses, Cupid makes you stupid (Blossom Dearie)
  • finding the beauty in spite of the odds, loving the world even though “the world is at least half terrible” (Maggie Smith)
  • the care/repair/persistent work our bodies do for us every day so we can function/survive (aug 4)
  • the heart as symbol (of love) and organ (aug 5)
  • not equal: “If equal affection cannot be,/ Let the more loving one be me” (Auden, aug 6)
  • small kindnesses: pulling in your legs in a crowded aisle, saying “bless you,” helping someone pick up spilled lemons, saying “thank you” (aug 7)
  • sometimes similar, but not the same as joy, pleasure, or surprise (aug 9)
  • love of/belief in self, love that doesn’t need light (aug 16)
  • nourishment, womb, not wanting not restless (aug 18)
  • love as connection, as opposed to mercy as compassion (Carl Phillips, aug 23)
  • as grief — a burden and a friend (aug 25)
  • being in the midst of others, connected (aug 26)
  • as distinguished from liking — we like objects, we love living things, to like is fleeting to love lasts (Dorothy Wordsworth, aug 26)
  • an offering to others, to yourself, a way to find beauty in a mostly ugly world, to find a reason in an unreasonable world (aug 31)

How to Find the Love (when all you feel is irritation)

Sometimes it’s not the people but the path that’s causing the irritating behavior. Find the love by choosing a different route (aug 3).

Note: Maybe it was because I went on vacation with my college friends, or because I swam a lot, or because I resisted love, or because I struggled to find poems to post for this topic, but I had trouble this month. Looking back at the entries in order to write this summary, I’m realizing that, even though I thought this assignment fell apart, it didn’t. I like the poems I picked and many of the ideas I explored about love. I’m especially interested in exploring the similarities and differences between mercy and love, compassion and connection. Mercy is an under-appreciated idea, both in word and deed, I think.

Update, 18 april 2022: Here are a few more love poems that I want to remember and think about in terms of love.

And another one added on September 28, 2022:

And this one added on February 13, 2023:

And this one, found on August 31, 2023: