I discovered Derek Walcott’s poem “Love After Love” today, and it was a benediction. It opened my heart and strengthened my courage and grew my confidence — that the life I have been living all these years, humble and meandering and broken as it has sometimes been, has been the true life that I came here for. “The time will come/” he writes, “when, with elation/you will greet yourself arriving/at your own door, in your own mirror.” Where else should we be arriving to? And yet, there are the impostors, those shouting voices of fear urging us onward in the direction where we are not, that we might have the accolades and riches of this world, even as we secretly know that the richest place we will ever know is the place inside our own soul.
How might we live if, as Walcott suggests, we loved again “the stranger” who is our self, if we gave back our heart “to itself, to the stranger who has loved you”? Would we trust ourselves finally? Would we trust life? Would we commit ourselves fully to the true thing that is in front of us, without any promise of earthly reward. Would we come to understand, at last, that there are rewards besides money and power and reputation and fame, rewards more valuable still. And that, anyways, if we do what we are born to do, and if we do everything necessary to ensure these works will be possible, life will buoy us onward, for most of all, life is wanting us to arrive at our own door.
LOVE AFTER LOVE
“The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.”
PAULA PURYEAR is a Lawyer, Film & Television writer, HuffPoster and Founder of Revel In It Mag.