The Practice of Love

by Betty Holden

After all it is a lover’s touch
although you say nothing
as you run your hand
up and down the sleeve
of my gray cashmere sweater
wrist to elbow to shoulder
and back again

Again and again you tell me
how touch is a language
far more keen than words

Whenever you must sign a check
I take your fingers in my own
lifting them
to the exact spot
on the line
where the pen must fall

Oh marvelous touch
You carry the weight
of what lies unspoken

Words refuse to serve
and fly away
like frightened gulls

And when your eyes are dry
I tilt your head
my hand on your brow
and poise the dropper just so
that one—and only one—
drop floods the eye

Betty Holden has lived in Black Mountain for fifteen years. She taught English at Warren Wilson College. She has had poems published in The Virginia Quarterly and the Asheville Poetry Review.

About The Practice of Love—It is always a challenge to capture feelings in a poem. I find it works best for me to focus on relevant details to convey what I hope to say. This poem was written for a close friend who was gradually losing his sight.