by Billy Collins
When it’s late at night and branches
are banging against the windows,
you might think that love is just a matter
of leaping out of the frying pan of yourself
into the fire of someone else,
but it’s a little more complicated than that.
It’s more like trading the two birds
who might be hiding in that bush
for the one you are not holding in your hand.
A wise man once said that love
was like forcing a horse to drink
but then everyone stopped thinking of him as wise.
Let us be clear about something.
Love is not as simple as getting up
on the wrong side of the bed wearing the emperor’s clothes.
No, it’s more like the way the pen
feels after it has defeated the sword.
It’s a little like the penny saved or the nine dropped stitches.
You look at me through the halo of the last candle
and tell me love is an ill wind
that has no turning, a road that blows no good,
but I am here to remind you,
as our shadows tremble on the walls,
that love is the early bird who is better late than never.
“Adage” by Billy Collins from Aimless Love. © Random House, 2013.