"The highest form of love is to be
the protector of another person's solitude."
--Rainer Maria Rilke
Bullshit, Rilke; I'm sorry old chap but really--
protecting the solitude! of anyone!--that is their own,
that is their first and best lesson. You
must let them protect themselves.
In loving someone you will enter them
and they will enter you; intimacy demands this
or be evicted from love's province.
There are invitations
and consequences; deep hurts exposed and
mistakes made and forgiveness offered.
Such are love's conditions.
The highest form of love is a dance
and the best dancers are those who give
with grace: Yes, my darling, turn to me here
and I will open a space for you there.
Stumble, dear, and I will catch you;
lay bare your most vulnerable parts
and I will shield them from the eyes of the world.
If you fail in this, you fail in love--no matter
how much you may guard that person's solitude;
no matter how fiercely you defend her freeholder's rights
for a lover alone builds a battlement, eventually
against your most tender endearments.
She forgets how to dance with any but herself
these halting, solitary, loveless steps
that lead to the edge of alone: this single set of prints
disappearing into soft gray solitude.