The Properties of Love
I. Adverse Possession
Against all right you've moved into my heart
And by that entry thought to win in fact
What is not yours in deed. But while it's part
Of remedying your title's latent defect
To have possession, older claims expire
Not by your mere arrival but by your
Continuing dominion. Should those prior
Conveyances be reasserted before
The limiting term of years, you've no recourse:
The thing is hers again who had it first;
You at your peril try to make it yours.
I cannot judge myself the best and worst,
Only I know in love my heart is slow:
Long in the winning, and long in letting go.
Had I intended to contest the right
Of him my rival to your close-held heart,
I must have moved already, for to fight
at all, one must have been there at the start:
To bring an action later is to waive
However worthy a cause one might possess.
No argument, no well-turned words can save
What thus is forfeit. And though I will confess
I grow to like you more and more, those matches
That blossom slow are ever suspect, for
What's love and what's just comfort? The bar of laches
Forestalls such questions: he wins who wants it more.
No, give me love past doubting. What love's mattered
That hasn't plagued, burned, raged, and left hearts shattered?
III. Easement by Necessity
I find I am surrounded at all hands,
And left no egress to the common way;
On every side extends none but your lands,
Subject to your dominion, and under your sway.
Thus circumscribed, all liberty is lost:
No thought but tends to you, no happenstance
But takes place in your shadow - and when the cost
Of buying one's way out is at the chance
Volition of one's captor, the law provides
For easement by necessity, which now
I plead. The captive helps himself, decides
The crossing out, and chooses when and how -
To what forgotten country I cannot see:
I first must leave this love, make my self free.
IV. Quiet Title
A clouded title never clears up on
Its own, no matter how long’s passed since first
That cloud appeared - it takes separate action
To overcome the blot and, like sun, burst
Out through the storms to fair and settled weather -
And that is what I’ve done: a civil suit
Against myself to bring my heart together:
A quiet title to make all old claims moot.
So now no claimants can disturb my rest,
And I once more am master. I intend
To bask in this St Martin’s summer, blessed
By late sun made more welcome by storms’ end.
Do not remind me that such peace can’t last -
My next love shall be smoother than this just passed.