Rent

If you want my apartment, sleep in it
but let’s have a clear understanding:
the books are still free agents.

If the rocking chair’s arms surround you
they can also let you go,
they can shape the air like a body.

I don’t want your rent, I want
a radiance of attention
like the candle’s flame when we eat,

I mean a kind of awe
attending the spaces between us—
Not a roof but a field of stars.

–Jane Cooper

“I want a radiance of attention”… “A kind of awe attending the spaces between us—Not a roof but a field of stars”… The succinct and simple beauty of these phrases speaks to the tenor of my desires for companionship at this point in my life. It wasn’t always the case, that longing for a radiance of attention. My fierce independence from an early age shouted louder than more subtle longings in me that, with time, found their own way of being heard. I’m lucky, my partner already knows a variety of dance steps but is still willing, after all these years, to learn some new moves. Boogie on, babe.

Jane Cooper (1924–2007) was an American poet who spent many years teaching at Sarah Lawrence College. Of her poetry volume Scaffolding, Grace Paley wrote, “This is a beautiful and stubborn book of poems. The poems say only what they mean. They have about them a great deep patience for the whole truth, a waiting in quietness for tremor and explosion.”

“Poetry is a way of giving people more life, a more vivid awareness of the exact moment they are living through — first a sensuous awareness, then a historical one. What else can so clearly tell us who we are, while telling us more than we knew? The true poem is almost without signature. It is a living experience in which we, poet and reader, participate together. A partnership. A means of practicing freedom.” Jane Cooper

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