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ELDER POETRY INTERLUDE: Touch Me

By Stanley Kunitz

Summer is late, my heart.
Words plucked out of the air
some forty years ago
when I was wild with love
and torn almost in two
scatter like leaves this night
of whistling wind and rain.
It is my heart that's late,
it is my song that's flown.
Outdoors all afternoon
under a gunmetal sky
staking my garden down,
I kneeled to the crickets trilling
underfoot as if about
to burst from their crusty shells;
and like a child again
marveled to hear so clear
and brave a music pour
from such a small machine.
What makes the engine go?
Desire, desire, desire.
The longing for the dance
stirs in the buried life.
One season only,
            and it's done.
So let the battered old willow
thrash against the windowpanes
and the house timbers creak.
Darling, do you remember
the man you married? Touch me,
remind me who I am.

From Passing Through: The Later Poems, New and Selected - (W. W. Norton, 1995)

Stanley Kunitz

Stanley Kunitz is one of America's most celebrated poets. He was twice poet laureate and winner of a Pulitzer Prize, a National Book Award winner and many more. Born in Massachusetts, he divided most of his time in his adult years between his homes in Greenwich Village and Provincetown.

Kunitz was born in 1905 and died at age 100 in 2006. Here he is reading Touch Me, introduced by Garrison Keillor.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Jackie Harrison: How Do We Appreciate the Arts

Comments

I first read this poem many years ago,and was very moved by it, but the words are so much more moving here, spoken by the author. Thank you for posting this video.

Just wonderful, first time I ever read it..I miss very much being in love, some days more than others..it's New York City, it's rainy lightly, making my hair curl, a lifelong asset I know..thanks for sharing, I will be mooning around all day now like those Vermont cows a few years back...

Stanley Kunitz's poems say so much. Thank you for posting this today.

Sometimes, in my dreams, I have a young suitor, and the old excitement returns. This proves the feelings and the longings are still deep within us.

Thanks. Aging and love create a special duet.

I remember the professor in my psychology class asking a recent young widow what she missed most about her husband.

She thought for a few minutes and replied, "Being loved." It is a very human need and this poem reminded me of that incident.

*That* brought me to tears.

Ronni,

I really miss being in Love!

I love my husband dearly but I miss the excitement of being "IN LOVE".

Ah! Those were the days!

Lovely poem! Touch is such an important sense. Romantically, I'm reminded of a CW singer Charlie Rich whose smooth melodic voice has always stirred my emotions when I hear him sing "Everytime You Touch Me I Get High. (Song is on YouTube.)

Professionally, I see the unspoken positive reactions from just a simple spontaneous reassuring light touch to the hand, arm or shoulder of child or adult patients when appropriate. But care must be taken so there's no possibility of misinterpretation and the individual is not made uncomfortable. A few ordinary people can be repelled by touch of another for a variety of reasons, also often those with autism are.

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