Poetry Sunday: Love Explained by Jennifer Michael Hecht

Love can be a mystery, a conundrum. It can addle the brain and make you stupid at times. It can even cause you to flip "the grammar of the spoken word" and make nonsensical comments. Jennifer Michael Hecht explains. 

Love Explained

by Jennifer Michael Hecht

Guy calls the doctor, says the wife’s   
contractions are five minutes apart.   
Doctor says, Is this her first child?
guy says, No, it’s her husband.

I promise to try to remember who   
I am. Wife gets up on one elbow,

says, I wanted to get married.   
It seemed a fulfillment of some

several things, a thing to be done.   
Even the diamond ring was some

thing like a quest, a thing they   
set you out to get and how insane

the quest is; how you have to turn   
it every way before you can even

think to seek it; this metaphysical   
refraining is in fact the quest. Who’d

have guessed? She sighs, I like   
the predictability of two, I like

my pleasures fully expected,   
when the expectation of them

grows patterned in its steady   
surprise. I’ve got my sweet

and tumble pat. Here on earth,   
I like to count upon a thing

like that. Thus explained   
the woman in contractions

to her lover holding on
the telephone for the doctor

to recover from this strange   
conversational turn. You say

you’re whom? It is a pleasure   
to meet you. She rolls her

eyes, but he’d once asked her   
Am I your first lover? and she’d   
said, Could be. Your face looks   
familiar. It’s the same type of

generative error. The grammar
of the spoken word will flip, let alone

the written, until something new is   
in us, and in our conversation.


  1. I must pay more attention to these spoken gymnastics and see if I can come up with some original witticisms. But don't hold your breath waiting!

    1. This one made me laugh out loud when I read it which was reason enough to feature it.

  2. Thanks for posting. I had never read this before. It is good verse .

    Love can indeed cause a lot if mental chaos.

    1. It certainly caused chaos in the young father in the first stanza!

  3. I loved this take on an old joke. This was a fun poem.

    1. We can all use a bit of humor in our lives, can't we?

  4. The rhyming scheme itself was entertaining. The pandemic has brought to light some contractions at our house but we seem to have weathered them well.

    1. It has changed all of our lives, in some ways even for the better, and perhaps made us understand that "this metaphysical refraining is in fact the quest," our quest.

  5. Never read this one before but I enjoyed it!

    1. 'Tis the season for love so it seemed like a good time to explain it!


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