Touch Me

By Stanley Kunitz 1905–2006 Stanley Kunitz
Summer is late, my heart.
Words plucked out of the air   
some forty years ago
when I was wild with love   
and torn almost in two
scatter like leaves this night   
of whistling wind and rain.   
It is my heart that’s late,
it is my song that’s flown.   
Outdoors all afternoon
under a gunmetal sky
staking my garden down,
I kneeled to the crickets trilling   
underfoot as if about
to burst from their crusty shells;   
and like a child again
marveled to hear so clear   
and brave a music pour
from such a small machine.   
What makes the engine go?   
Desire, desire, desire.
The longing for the dance   
stirs in the buried life.
One season only,
                        and it’s done.
So let the battered old willow
thrash against the windowpanes   
and the house timbers creak.   
Darling, do you remember
the man you married? Touch me,   
remind me who I am.

Stanley Kunitz, “Touch Me” from Passing Through: The Later Poems, New and Selected. Copyright © 1966, 1995 by Stanley Kunitz. Reprinted with the permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. This selection may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Source: Passing Through: The Later Poems, New and Selected (W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1995)

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Poet Stanley Kunitz 1905–2006

Subjects Love, Poetry & Poets, Marriage & Companionship, Growing Old, Nature, Trees & Flowers, Weather, Animals, Gardening, Living, Relationships, Activities, Arts & Sciences

Occasions Anniversary

 Stanley  Kunitz


Stanley Kunitz became the tenth Poet Laureate of the United States in the autumn of 2000. Kunitz was ninety-five years old at the time, still actively publishing and promoting poetry to new generations of readers. In the New York Times Book Review, Robert Campbell noted that Kunitz's selection as poet laureate—the highest literary honor in America—"affirms his stature as perhaps the most distinguished living American poet." . . .

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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