“The love of one woman” A poem by Franchot Ballinger


      “The love of one woman
            W.S. Merwin

        How can there be such singularity?
        All around us are multiplications,
        Exponential effusions of professions,
        Of declaration, of protestation, of procreation.
        All the lavish universe refuses a center,
        Denies a focus—galaxy, nebula, black hole,
        All teeming and sucking and wildly flung,
        All’s akimbo, flailing, flying,
        Even the million seeds of the white pine
        Like stars carried promiscuously afar.
        But look—she who is a wealth of caresses,
        Well-spring of kisses, creates with me a center,
        A holdfast root to flower…as if
        We were the only and last of our kind:
        Precious and prayerful, all stem and stalk,
        Leaf and flavor, bloom and blossom;
        Seed and husk, juice of fruit and pulp.
        Sunk in guttering light and
        Darkening sweep of cosmos,
        Of our days, our lives, there is only
        This one love–avant-garde acceptance,
        Cool conspicuousness (if puzzling principle),
        Remarkable reaping.

        In retirement after nearly 40 years teaching English at the University of Cincinnati, Franchot Ballinger has continued volunteering with the Cincinnati Nature Center in various capacities and is also a spiritual care volunteer with Hospice of Cincinnati. His poems have appeared in numerous poetry journals in print and on-line.
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