The same time every year, the same thing happens. Valentine’s Day arrives and many of us have not noticed, or have remembered and forgotten, or have spurned it altogether for its bloody roots. As far as I can tell, loads of holidays have bloody roots, so that’s no reason not to celebrate–especially love. Come on, love is a feeling we don’t celebrate nearly enough. All kinds of love, not just the romantic sort.
Of course, Valentine’s is traditionally known as a sweetheart’s day. But love is love and come in all shapes and sizes, covered in skin, fur or feathers; arrives like a cherub from the womb and departs as a wizened old granny or gramps or crone or crazy uncle. Think of all the love they’ve seen if they’ve lived with an open heart; how much they have given and received.
That is what this post is all about. I want us to celebrate love and show our respect and gratitude for those who love us. I try to write a Valentine’s poem every year. I haven’t missed many since I took up the writer’s life around 20 years ago. Some of those poems are good and some are not. The quality never mattered to the recipient. The heart it took to write it did.
Let me just say that if you want to have a really good time on Valentine’s Day, write the lady a poem. Not that all you women shouldn’t write a poem, as well. You should. It’s just that I have often thought about leading a workshop for guys on how to write a Valentine’s poem. Your sweetheart will swoon and cover you with kisses and she will keep your poem forever in a safe place and read it again and again. I can just about guarantee this.
The truth is that in this particular case, the poem doesn’t have to be great, okay? What matters is that you open your heart, thank them for all they have given you, don’t mention the things you wish they’d given you, and be as romantic as your usually rational, logical mind will allow. Try it and see what happens. It doesn’t have to rhyme, but it’s fine if it does. Alright, this year you don’t even have to give it to anyone if you chicken out. Just write the darn thing. Go that far. Put your big boy or girl boots on and try your hand and heart at a real valentine instead of one from those terrible writers at Hallmark. You don’t know who wrote those words.
This year my valentine is for you, faithful readers; as well as for my sweetheart, friends and loved ones. I covered a lot of ground because I had a lot of people to say I love you to. I actually sent several of these out with little heart stickers all over them, sealed in these shiny purple envelopes (remember, presentation IS important) with cool stamps. Sending the valentine through the mail makes for bonus points. But I ran out of materials before I covered everyone. So I’m hoping you will accept this post as your Valentine from my heart to yours. You know who you are. Happy Valentine’s Day.
If you are receiving this poem
it means you own a part of my heart
not that my heart is all divided up like an anatomical drawing
auricles and ventricles, arteries and veins
that sort of thing.
You don’t fit in a box like dress shoes in a closet
or even an oval of pearls laid out on blue velvet.
What I mean is you have your own room
in the home of my heart.
Didn’t Jesus say, “In my Father’s house there are many rooms”?
My heart is a mansion even though I myself
live in a long little house
like a European train station,
a short stop on the journey that is my life.
Leigh says my heart is as big as a Texas sky
(how I love her for that)
and there you all fly
birds, broad-winged and soaring
on the currents of my affection.
This Valentine’s I wanted to say it
then send it
because we never, ever say it
write it down enough
even though it is so true
that you, you, and you
are special to me
have moved me
steered my life in a new direction
taught me to fish from both sides of the boat
talked philosophy or fed me
in a thousand different ways when I was hungry
visited with me when I was ill
clothed me with gifts new or from Goodwill.
At some point you sang
or wrote or taught me a song
said, “Here, have this book”
shared a bit of your art
which I have cherished and kept
like a Valentine
in that particular part of my heart you own
and knowing because of you
I will never be alone–
I had to say I love you.
—by Mendy Knott