“The Alteration of Love” by Myra Shapiro

Myra Shapiro


I was crying—I mean
tears came—about love,
old love, long marriage
spilling past impediments of
who wants what for dinner or
in the bedroom—ins and outs
my father’s coarse humor

made a joke of: you put it in,
you pull it out, the story’s over,
only in Yiddish it rhymed,
words I don’t recall. Over,
he is. So is my mother. We
were never to be them.
Now they want me

to stop crying. I was trying
to say something about love—
how one day one of us
will disappear. That’s when
my eyes hauled up the sea,
and my mother and father came
to make a child of me.

from Rattle #43, Spring 2014
Tribute to Love Poems

[download audio]


Myra Shapiro: “These days I can’t get over being old. It’s new to me, that my life like a book has to end. And because I’ve always lived in books, lines and phrases others have written stay close to me. Shakespeare’s ‘Love is not love/ Which alters when it alteration finds’ spoke as I tried to grasp how fragile a very old marriage is.”

Rattle Logo