Altruism

By Molly Peacock b. 1947 Molly Peacock
What if we got outside ourselves and there   
really was an outside out there, not just   
our insides turned inside out? What if there   
really were a you beyond me, not just   
the waves off my own fire, like those waves off   
the backyard grill you can see the next yard through,   
though not well -- just enough to know that off   
to the right belongs to someone else, not you.   
What if, when we said I love you, there were   
a you to love as there is a yard beyond   
to walk past the grill and get to? To endure   
the endless walk through the self, knowing through a bond   
that has no basis (for ourselves are all we know)   
is altruism: not giving, but coming to know   
someone is there through the wavy vision   
of the self's heat, love become a decision.

Molly Peacock, “Altruism” from Cornucopia: New and Selected Poems 1975-2002. Copyright © 2002 by Molly Peacock. 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: Cornucopia: New and Selected Poems 1975-2002 (W. W. Norton and Company Inc., 2002)

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Poet Molly Peacock b. 1947

Subjects Relationships, Love, Realistic & Complicated

Occasions Engagement, Anniversary, Weddings

Holidays Valentine's Day

Poetic Terms Sonnet

 Molly  Peacock

Biography

Molly Peacock was born in Buffalo, New York, and attended the State University of New York at Binghamton and Johns Hopkins. She has taught at many universities and served as the President of the Poetry Society of America, where she began the Poetry in Motion program, which places poetry placards on subway cars and buses throughout American cities. In her poetry, Peacock affects a natural, conversational tone while working . . .

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Poems by Molly Peacock

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SUBJECT Relationships, Love, Realistic & Complicated

Poetic Terms Sonnet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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