Love after Love

The title may confuse you. Perhaps one should emphasize the word after. Another way would be to say it is love after loss — after heartbreak, after someone says, “Not you. Someone else perhaps, but not you.” 

They mean it even when they don’t say it, or so you believe.

You know what such abandonment is — among life’s most miserable, desperate, devitalizing events.

Life-sucking, soul crushing.

And yet, Derek Walcott, the late Nobel Prize-winning poet, would have told you there is another who you have forgotten and should turn to.

Yourself — to love yourself.

Walcott knew. He knew what rejection created in its object. You have no value or not enough. Even without explanation, you wonder. “Did I do something? Was I not bright, wealthy, beautiful enough, not handsome?”

“Inconsiderate, perhaps, or cruel.”

“Was I too old, too immature, unfunny?”

The questions go on endlessly until time, your friend, helps you heal. But Walcott offers more. A poetic guide to assist in your own healing. The reader is the actress Helen Bonham Carter. The second reading is by David Whyte.

Read, and when in discontent, remember the final line.

Love after Love

Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.