American Life in Poetry: Beloved

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

Ethel­bert Miller is the mas­ter of the short, pithy lyric, packed with ten­der­ness, a gen­tle wit, and moments of sat­is­fy­ing res­o­nance.

Here is an ode to Spring that is also, at once, a love lyric. Though the object of affec­tion in his poem ​“Beloved” is Spring, it is easy to see how the long­ing, the desire, the impulse to announce love of Spring, cap­tures the sen­ti­ments of roman­tic love.

But since we are now in the throes of win­ter, it is also fit­ting to med­i­tate with Miller on our long­ing for the rebirth of love’s season.

By Ethel­bert Miller

Please forgive me for forgetting.
I wanted to go outside and look for you.
I was told this was impossible.

I was instructed to stay indoors.
But my words for you need sun.
My heart needs air.

I love you Spring.
I miss your warmth.
Come unlock my door.

American Life in Poetry does not accept unsolicited manuscripts. It is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2020 by E. Ethelbert Miller, “Beloved” from Washingtonian Magazine, May 15, 2020. Poem reprinted by permission of the author and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2022 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Kwame Dawes, is George W. Holmes Professor of English and Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska.