The Jane Moran Prize
Winter 2015
L L Harper

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

When did you realize that love realized can kill?
Fluid as an extended rant, how your father’s affection pinches
you in place, impales you both stricken with a tired convention,
how it’s scotched initiative at times, his deep obligation, but more
often than not, bound you to him, the patrimonial caretaker you adore
as much as any daughter, exclusively until the other one you can’t ignore
declares his love for your words, soft skin, the signal corps
of your caresses, tender semaphores of love which in an intervention
makes new worlds in Pisa, your hearts approving, uncaged as finches.

How is it that when love takes over, it can choke you in clinches
of exclusivity, all the words slowed for a time, a suspension
readily agreed to in exchange for a grand passion sure to restore
to health the weakest, and it works for a time, less writing before 
the child and after, Robert the small miracle your father feared, swore
would kill you and perhaps it did eventually.  In Florence, the ambassador
anguished along with the Portugese in grief beyond comprehension 
but who pulled himself back to the light and words, inch by worded inches.
©2015 L L Harper