distance

sometimes the heart holds itself
a little ways apart from longing
as one might hold back from a
whorehouse: fascinated, separate.
inside the gyrating bodies,
exposed, connected, represent
not longing itself, but the idea of it
to one unacquainted with longing.
its near neighbors: the saloon of grief,
shadow-robed patrons heavily drinking,
the throbbingly bright casino of loneliness,
without windows and without clocks.
but loneliness is not a casino
so much as a well-kept house,
sparse and swept and waiting.
grief is more wilderness than barroom,
and longing (some of us know)
has nothing to do with the flesh.

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