Valentine's Day Poem (on the nature of thought and communication)

Love Explained


Guy calls the doctor, says the wife’s   

contractions are five minutes apart.   

Doctor says, Is this her first child?

guy says, No, it’s her husband.


I promise to try to remember who   

I am. Wife gets up on one elbow,


says, I wanted to get married.   

It seemed a fulfillment of some


several things, a thing to be done.   

Even the diamond ring was some


thing like a quest, a thing they   

set you out to get and how insane


the quest is; how you have to turn   

it every way before you can even


think to seek it; this metaphysical   

reframing is in fact the quest. Who’d


have guessed? She sighs, I like   

the predictability of two, I like


my pleasures fully expected,   

when the expectation of them


grows patterned in its steady   

surprise. I’ve got my sweet


and tumble pat. Here on earth,   

I like to count upon a thing


like that. Thus explained   

the woman in contractions


to her lover holding on

the telephone for the doctor


to recover from this strange   

conversational turn. You say


you’re whom? It is a pleasure   

to meet you. She rolls her


eyes, but he’d once asked her   

Am I your first lover? and she’d   

said, Could be. Your face looks   

familiar. It’s the same type of


generative error. The grammar

of the spoken word will flip, let alone


the written, until something new is   

in us, and in our conversation.


from Funny by Jennifer Michael Hecht. Winner of the 2005 Felix Pollack Prize in Poetry. Copyright © 2005. By permission of The University of Wisconsin Press.