“Valediction, on Arriving in a Distant Land” by Eric Paul Shaffer

Eric Paul Shaffer


I am not one to travel with no destination. No city or continent
charms me with the vague glee of flight. Nor would I go alone,
for every day, we wake warmth to warmth, your breath in my ear,

my hand on your thigh. Yesterday, the planet bowed before us,
and cool distance clarified a curve measurable in miles, in feet
pacing dutifully through the world. I’ve crossed deserts and seas,

rivers and peaks from which the waters flow, the sun westering
and a moon pierced by sky while morning melts into noon. All
space intensifies, blue, absolute, definite and dismal, magnified

by our finite human measures when we mark our roads with signs
and lines and lights that regulate. Even now, with old mountains
at my back and a thin river lost in a valley of dust, I am with you.

The rays from stars cascade through darkness limitless and lit
too little. Light is slow beside the speed with which my thoughts
turn to you. And no world is large enough to come between us.

from Rattle #43, Spring 2014
Tribute to Love Poems

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Eric Paul Shaffer: “I love love poems, yet my theory is that the more love poems composed, the fewer good love poems there are. So I watch for and seek good ones. To no one’s surprise, the English Renaissance is a great place to look. I particularly admire Sir John Suckling, who had the courage to rhyme ‘heart’ with ‘fart’ (surely a telling match) and John Donne, a great master, whose compass in ‘A Valediction, Forbidding Mourning’ is magical. My poem is about arriving in my beloved town of Albuquerque without my beloved.”

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