There is a lot of loneliness out there, and within, at this time of year. This poem takes tender note.
Loneliness - Stephen Dunn
So many different kinds,
yet only one vague word.
And the Eskimos
with twenty-six words for snow,
such a fine alertness
to what variously presses down.
Yesterday I saw lovers
hugging in the street,
making everyone around them
feel lonely, and the lovers themselves -
wasn't a deferred loneliness
waiting for them?
There must be words
for what our aged mothers, removed
in those unchosen homes, keep inside,
and a separate word for us
who've sent them there, a word
for the secret loneliness of salesmen,
for how I feel touching you
when I'm out of touch.
The contorted, pocked, terribly ugly man
shopping in the 24-hour supermarket
at 3 a.m. - a word for him-
and something, please,
for this nameless ache here
in this nameless spot.
If we paid half as much attention
to our lives as Eskimos to snow...
Still, the little lies,
the never enough.
No doubt there must be Eskimos
in their white sanctums, thinking
just let it fall, accumulate.