First Love By Carol Ann Duffy
Waking, with a dream of first love forming real words,
as close to my lips as lipstick, I speak your name,
after a silence of years, into the pillow, and the power
of your name brings me here to the window, naked,
to say it again to a garden shaking with light.
This was a child's love, and yet I clench my eyes
till the pictures return, unfocused at first, then
almost clear, an old film played at a slow speed.
All day I will glimpse it, in windows of changing sky,
in mirrors, my lover's eyes, wherever you are.
And later a star, long dead, here, seems precisely
the size of a tear. Tonight, a love-letter out of a dream
stammers itself in my heart. Such faithfulness.
You smile in my head on the last evening. Unseen
flowers suddenly pierce and sweeten the air.
Once again, the poetry of Carol Ann Duffy explores the interdependence of past and present. Her speakers often find themselves knowing again some name, some feeling that flows into the present unsettling its horizons and vistas, acknowledging our eternal 'unfinished' anchors to others. Here Duffy succinctly captures the irony of the first love in the present moment having a looming reality which perhaps escaped the poet in the original time. Now, when the unnamed 'name' is spoken perhaps revelation and sexual maturity accompany the memory of the first love. How playfully paradoxical the 'real words as close to my lips as lipstick'..This is a fimly, sexually ambiguous memory where today, in the present the lost 'you' returns and somehow consummates the forgotten love. The present lover the poet realises has glimpses of the original love and perhaps the implication lingers about the poem, all subsequent loves are but shadows of the first.
I love the poem. I just want to somehow leave it alone and let if be. For that is the beauty of its suggestibility. All is allowed to script itself about the reader. We can make and remake the poem...