What is given by a woman to a man
cannot be returned or exchanged.
It’s no silvery-wrapped first edition book,
no amber jar of healing herbs,
or a magnifying glass that clarifies fine print.
Anything given is what is intended,
not what is imagined, longed for, misplaced.
Her laughter can be a caress over aching temples,
her kiss a great mystery of heat and cold.
A woman’s quietness may seem a retrieval of peace
or a withholding–she may be dreaming. Or emptied.
Her passionate rebuttal may sound as insult or denial;
but she is using skills to illuminate, navigate.
And her eyes locked on a man’s may glow like fires
in a dark wood–they are alight with more to be revealed.
All the years she offers up, receives, makes do, anchors family
may appear as bartering, doing duty if not deep affection.
But it is love that kindles everything in life;
she carries it, or not; you carry it, or not.
It lives inside each gesture and word or it is abandoned.
What she gives is wholly herself, in shards or repaired;
there is a critical point before there came that yes.
That said, it is abundance for you whether you find
it enough or worthy, or pronounce it something else.
What is given by a woman may even be overlooked
though she keeps doing and being as she can.
But all the rest–no matter how little or much–
she keeps close, is hers until the end.