The Spaces Between

by Jack McCarthy

for Helen

It hurts
when love dies.
When love is deep

it hurts deeply
more deeply maybe than you thought
anything would ever hurt

But with time
the spaces between the moments when it hurts
get longer
the moments themselves become
less devastating
till eventually you come to associate them
with a sad sweetness
that has as much in common with love
as it does with grief.

I will not say
Don’t grieve for me–
do I look like Saint Francis?
But I wish you long
spaces in between,
and may you carry into them
all of that sweetness
and only enough sadness to attest
the risk that’s being taken
by everyone who loves you.

Every time we love we’re saying,
Let it ride
and what’s on the table
is the rent money.

And every time we stride again
out into the crisp desert night
our fists shoved deep into empty pockets
we know ourselves for losers.

But, Jesus,
what brave losers we are.
I wish you this too,
for the spaces in between,
this bravery.