American Culture · American Literature · Classic · Collection · Contemporary · Excerpt · Passage · Poetry

Rachel Wetzsteon

In the handed-down inventory of love’s habits
we find images of lowering: down at the mouth,
down on the knees, prostrate with the shock of the marvelous.
Contact more than shame-faced with the elevated figure
is therefore impossible; hazard more
than a bow, and a trapdoor opens beneath you;
offer a hand, and see love disappear.

— Rachel Wetzsteon, from “The Other Stars,” The Other Stars (Penguin Books, 1994)

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