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Poems From 'The Back Chamber'

Love's Progress

When love empties itself out,
it fills our bodies full.

For an hour we lie twining
pulse and skin together

like nurslings who sigh
and doze, dreamy with milk.


Snow rises as high as my windows. Inside by the fire
my chair is warm, and I remain compounded of cold.

It is unthinkable that we will not touch each other again.

As the barn's bats swoop, vastation folds its wings
over my chest to enclose my rapid, impetuous heart.

It is ruinous that we will not touch each other again.

Ten miles away, snow falls on your clapboard house.
You play with your children in frozen meadows of snow.

From The Back Chamber by Donald Hall. Copyright 2011 by Donald Hall. Excerpted by permission of the publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Donald Hall
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