Mar/Apr 2021 • Vol. XLIII No. 2 Nature’s Nature |

The Spring Cricket Observes Valentine’s Day

Twenty-four hours dedicated to the heart and the heart in question a caricature of something that never existed: half a butterfly squeezing out of a lace-trimmed corset, a fantasy floozy, dipped in red, favorite color of the criminally insane. Equally ferocious, this insistence that love resides in the chest, when everyone knows it pitches itself into ether. That’s why they speak of falling: you step out without looking, and even the best parts of you won’t hold you up. Ah! The lobed boxes, the chocolates softly sweating in their pleated wrappers, the flowers trussed and crackling on doorsteps! From my shrub I watch them navigate the handover — eyes shining, kisses —  then send out my own Valentine into the darkening meadow: one crimped note scratched from two back legs, a spark rubbed to flame; all that I cannot be yearning for wings, their glazed flight becoming all of me — which I give to you wherever, whoever you are.

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Pulitzer Prize winner and former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove has published numerous books, most recently Sonata Mulattica and Collected Poems 1974-2004; she also edited The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry. Among her many awards are the National Medal of Arts and the National Humanities Medal. She is Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia.

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