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Essay On The Personal

Written by: Stephen Dunn | Biography
 Because finally the personal
is all that matters,
we spend years describing stones,
chairs, abandoned farmhouses—
until we're ready.
Always it's a matter of precision, what it feels like to kiss someone or to walk out the door.
How good it was to practice on stones which were things we could love without weeping over.
How good someone else abandoned the farmhouse, bankrupt and desperate.
Now we can bring a fine edge to our parents.
We can hold hurt up to the sun for examination.
But just when we think we have it, the personal goes the way of belief.
What seemed so deep begins to seem naive, something that could be trusted because we hadn't read Plato or held two contradictory ideas or women in the same day.
Love, then, becomes an old movie.
Loss seems so common it belongs to the air, to breath itself, anyone's.
We're left with style, a particular way of standing and saying, the idiosyncratic look at the frown which means nothing until we say it does.
Years later, long after we believed it peculiar to ourselves, we return to love.
We return to everything strange, inchoate, like living with someone, like living alone, settling for the partial, the almost satisfactory sense of it.



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