A Poem About Love and Saying, I Do: ‘All Things and Nothing at All’

Aired on February 12th, 2017, on 99.3 County FMThe County Writes . . . The County Reads, hosted by Lynn Pickering.

Listen here:


I wrote this for my fiancée, for our wedding. Years later she told me that she was in love with another man even when she took her vows. The day this poem was read aloud in the limestone United Church on Burnhamthorpe Rd. in Etobicoke in front of our friends and family.

The marriage was annulled.

I was broken.

But, I fared better than Humpty Dumpty.

While the relationship perished, the words endured.

The spirit of the poem remained true, even though the heart of the intended did not. The flesh is weak, after-all.

Love is a living thing and can die from neglect. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t worthy of life.

Light needs a source, darkness just is, and it lies in wait for the burnout.

I recently did a rewrite, added a couple new verses. Changed it from how it was when I wrote in our apartment on Glenlake Ave in the brown brink house where we slept in the attic. My understanding of love grows in its complexity and its simplicity as I age; as I continue to struggle to find the strength to be open, to be vulnerable; ask for what Catherine Doherty sought, “. . . the heart of a child and the tremendous courage it takes to live it out as an adult.”

Though I often fail I aspire to live in truth, be loyal to those who can be trusted, spread a little joy, have some fun, share in the wonder, laugh at the absurdity of it all, and love in my way while allowing others to love in theirs.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


All Things and Nothing at All

Trying to encapsulate love
in a poem
is like
trying to put the ocean
into a thimble

Fit heaven
into a snapshot

Explain the universe
with an equation

Reproduce the Mona Lisa
in crayon

Love is all things: love is nothing at all

Simple as bells
on an ice cream truck
on a warm summer day

Complex as sacrifice
upon a cross

The first drop
of a slow
steady rain
falling upon a thirsty ground
a plentiful harvest

A beam of sunshine
bursting through
steel grey sky
out of the abstract
invisible arms
wrap around you
with the power of a hug
at a funeral

Dad’s pride
Mum’s praise
the embrace of a child
who missed you

A wagging tail
when you arrive

Soft fur
loud purr
by a roaring fire
on a frigid evening

A gentle kiss
in the middle of the night;
even in sleep
you’re not alone

The hand that guides you
or holds the spoon
when you don’t have the
or ability

The tear that falls
the thumb that wipes it away

Happiness of another
being equal
to your own

in the moment
through the longing
the despair

Seeking fortune
in misfortune

in tragedy

in lament

Love is all things: love is nothing at all

It’s summoning the courage
to mean it
with all your heart
when you say
I do

I do
want to spend
the rest of my life
with you

I do
to see past
your greatest mistakes
to the
tender heart
that beats beneath

I do
swear to hearten
every passion filled
seed you sow
take pride in the
accomplishments they reap
without envy

To lift you

Listen to your
more than your

To tell you
“It’s going to be all right”
when you need to hear it

And say
“It’s not all right”
when it needs to be said

To find a way
when dream meets desire
no matter how high the odds against
or how long the queue of sceptics

To treasure your smile
above all else

When the words
I do
vibrate through
our trembling lips
it’s not to capture love
but to set it free

Bring heaven down

Make the universe dawn
a Mona Lisa smile

Together we’ll cross any ocean
on a thimble
with a power
no proof can begin to explain

Love is all things: love is nothing at all

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