“After the Movie” by Marie Howe

My friend Michael and I are walking home arguing about the movie.
He says that he believes a person can love someone
and still be able to murder that person.

I say, No, that’s not love. That’s attachment.
Michael says, No, that’s love. You can love someone, then come to a day

when you’re forced to think “it’s him or me”
think “me” and kill him.

I say, Then it’s not love anymore.
Michael says, It was love up to then though.

I say, Maybe we mean different things by the same word.
Michael says, Humans are complicated: love can exist even in the
murderous heart.

I say that what he might mean by love is desire.
Love is not a feeling, I say. And Michael says, Then what is it?

We’re walking along West 16th Street—a clear unclouded night—and I hear my voice
repeating what I used to say to my husband: Love is action, I used to say
to him.

Simone Weil says that when you really love you are able to look at
someone you want to eat and not eat them.

Janis Joplin says, take another little piece of my heart now baby.

Meister Eckhardt says that as long as we love images we are doomed to
live in purgatory.

Michael and I stand on the corner of 6th Avenue saying goodnight.
I can’t drink enough of the tangerine spritzer I’ve just bought—

again and again I bring the cold can to my mouth and suck the stuff from
the hole the flip top made.

What are you doing tomorrow? Michael says.
But what I think he’s saying is “You are too strict. You are
a nun.”

Then I think, Do I love Michael enough to allow him to think these things
of me even if he’s not thinking them?

Above Manhattan, the moon wanes, and the sky turns clearer and colder.
Although the days, after the solstice, have started to lengthen,

we both know the winter has only begun.


From The Kingdom of Ordinary Time by Marie Howe. Copyright © 2008 by Marie Howe. W. W. Norton.

2 thoughts on ““After the Movie” by Marie Howe

  1. Brian Dean Powers

    My first reaction is that this is more like an essay, maybe a prose poem…. The ideas have merit, but I dearly wish the musical tools of poetry were more evident.


  2. Maureen

    I like this poem. I like easy conversational style, the imagery, and how I feel like I’m inside the mind of the narrator (or character? writer? Not sure of the correct term here 😶).
    BUT … I got lost toward the end. I’m not sure why she imagined Michael was thinking she was “too strict” and “like a nun”. And I’m fuzzy on the meaning of the orange spritzer – how she couldn’t stop drinking it … I’m guessing it might be referring back to the quotes in her head about love and eating/biting/ etc., but I’m not sure; it seems to symbolize more than that.
    If anyone can help shed some light on this, that would be much appreciated!
    (I’ve always had a hard time deciphering symbolic elements in writing – which is sad considering I was an English major :(. My concentration was Journalism, not literature — but still).


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