When It Isn’t There

by Paul Hooker

October 2015

It’s what the bees are busy with, hive-deep,
where no light reaches and the constant drone
of action serves to make the sweetness
those whose labor makes it never taste.

It’s what the land that flows with milk and—
flows with, even if more desire than dish,
a morsel in the mouths of weary wanderers
who yet taste it only in their dreams.

It’s the name I call you when not thinking
of your name but who you are or what you mean
or more likely what reward I’m yearning
to taste when we are done with conversation.

It’s what remains on my lips after our kiss
in the dark, the light at last extinguished
and the dog now settled, sighing, in the corner
and I wait to taste the respite of shared sleep.

Is it not a wonder, how life’s sweetness
is sweetest not handled, owned, or held
but hoped for or perhaps remembered,
not on the tongue, but when it isn’t there?

[PKH note: This poem had is birth in a dare. A friend challenged me write a poem about on a subject of her choosing. I wonder if you can guess what the subject was. This is the mess we get in when you dare me to do something.]