“To X. (With Ephemeral Kisses)” Erica Mann Jong

I hear you will not fall in love with me
because I come without a guarantee,
because someday I may depart at whim
and leave you desolate, abandoned, grim.
If that’s the case, what use to be alive?
In loving life you love what can’t survive:
and if you grow too fond and lose your head,
it’s all for naught–for someday you’ll be dead.
Maintain a cool detachment through the years.
Wear blinders, dear, put cotton in your ears.
Since worms will taste the tongue that tastes the wine,
burst not the grape against your palate fine.
With care, your puny heart will still be whole
the day they come to fetch your tepid soul.
And as that strumpet, Life, deals her last blow,
you’ll have this final consolatio:
you’ll snap your flippant fingers as you fall,
and say, “I never cared for her at all!”

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