En Eski Aşk Şiiri

By Jessica Jopp Jessica Jopp

The Oldest Love Poem
(For Susan)

Back from Istanbul, she gives to me
the photograph she took inside
the Archaeological Museum’s
blue tiled hush, of a tablet
carved in terra cotta from Nippur,
written in Sumerian.

Delicate etches, a lift of riverbed
where the summer waters ran
glistened on this piece of earth
the earnest working hand,
a pause between the lines to contemplate
cedars’ ornate overhanging
leaf-work become inseparable
from the carving.  Maybe reading sky,
reading wind, or tree sounds
beside the sound of clay
shaped to carry a human mark.

Maybe it says     we are so elegant
in our exchange that looking at each other
the trees whisper their contented green
across any distance to be here
branches heat-satiated
full in our veins of holding.

Maybe it says      when we spoon,
we spoon each other a river
we find in our arms the curving
edges of the loving bed
become a shadowed riverbank
from which night animals will bend
and from our abundant dreams
to ease their thirst, will drink.

Maybe it says      in our hands
the night sky we first held
between us in the glowing
amorphous float reaches
the underside of leaves
as every sentry in the moon’s keep
finds more of it to give away

tonight again the fragrant sky
etches luminous travel
with beads from tree to tree
above this terra cotta,
above us as we sleep.

Source: Poetry (February 2011).


This poem originally appeared in the February 2011 issue of Poetry magazine

February 2011


Jessica Jopp’s first book, The History of a Voice, received the Baxter Hathaway Prize in Poetry from Epoch. Recent work has appeared in Denver Quarterly and the Spoon River Poetry Review.

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Love, Romantic Love

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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