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    Have you ever been just skipping, skipping down a dusty path
    beside a river that is very busy making merry water-drops, and there
    you are, without a loftier intention than to feel your blood pump
    faster through your toes, but even THAT you wouldn’t know to
    speak about because you hadn’t got as far as making a decision to
    intend a single thing, that’s just the kind of disengaged and free
    and sans souci you were just then, for nothing pulled at you except
    perhaps the need to breathe, which once you get the hang of it is
    seldom terribly demanding.... Well. In retrospect, you see that
    without meaning to you’d found the perfect way to BE that day, for
    it was warm enough to go without a jacket, clear enough for
    cheerfulness, and quiet—there were noises, only mossy plopping
    sounds from water-drops at play, just that, without the bother of
    intending something waterish or damp-related, such as plotting
    nasty weather—for example, sleet or floods or twenty feet of snow.
    The water-drops in fact were (like you) having effortless
    amusement, finding all enchanting that might wander into their
    awareness, nothing judging, satisfaction popping in and out (and
    now that it’s a memory a few months old, obscurely you’re
    reminded of how Miles Davis played the trumpet, just as ready as
    the audience to be surprised at what the instrument produced with
    his assistance, in the way of pitch and timbre and intensity).

    ASTONISHMENT

    Oh lordy. Do you know what happened then? It’s something that
    would NEVER have if you had planned it; such phenomena cannot
    be MEANT because you’re not aware that they exist. It’s one of
    THE ASTONISHMENTS, and only afterward can you identify or give a
    name to it, because when you are in the midst of it your brain is
    incapacitated by your rapture and your reverence and you suspect
    it might be sacrilege to sully it with labels made of ordinary
    consonants and common vowels, and the skritch your voice delivers
    trying to articulate it verges on profanity. But as a poet, what have
    you to do except find language for what’s holy, beautiful,
    astounding, and resistant to description? So before you name it (if
    you say it now, your hearers’ minds will close around an image
    formed in haste and inerasable), you tell them what it looked like:

    A parade of all the colors in a mother’s heart when first she sees her
    newborn baby—only brighter, warmer, with such opulent abundance
    in its light it couldn’t keep itself contained...

    OR...

    The sum of all the energy, the vastness of it spread like playing
    cards, expended from the time a small child thinks he wants to plant
    a seed until the flowers bloom and then the boy goes out with
    scissors (carried safely, as his papa taught him), clips a couple dozen
    stems and wraps them in wet newsprint, takes them to the back-
    porch door and opens it but (clumsy with anticipation) lets the
    rusted spring, which shouldn’t even work it’s that old, yank the
    wooden door back shut (which, making such a satisfying clattering
    he laughs and hopes it didn’t wake the baby)—all that energy so far,
    is everybody keeping up? PLUS don’t forget the boost it got when
    all the planning and the effort and the waiting and anticipation
    culminated in the presentation of the mix of reds and pinks and
    greens and purples in their many shapes—some daisylike, some curly-
    petaled, some like velvet-covered nests and others tiny yellow
    buttons—to his mother, as he watched her face so as to know if she
    were just pretending to be pleased, but from the deep pool of the
    heart came happy tears, which if somehow one could collect and
    bottle them would cure ill will throughout the world... so add the
    energy from Mother’s overflowing of emotion, and the child’s, to all
    the rest... that’s what I saw that skipping-by-the-river afternoon,
    those colors and that energy erupting from I couldn‘t tell you where
    but I will say the name I dared to give to it: barenaked love....
    authentic love, undecorated, unadorned, unplanned... a true and
    honest love that is enough no matter what it does or doesn’t do...
    a show, aurora borealis–obvious, of love that makes you realize that
    what on Monday you believed you knew of love is like a snowflake
    landing on your mitten and you say about it, “This is snow,” and
    then you go to bed, and when you wake, voila, it’s Tuesday’s
    blizzard. Oh.

    AH, LIBERTY

    That splendid energy is what you saw and wondered if perhaps it
    might have ruined you for anything more subtle, ordinary,
    commonplace, but that is not the case; in fact, do you know what?
    Behind that spear or flash or momentary drenching, when the love
    seemed all there was, you knew at once the drab and plain were
    necessary for the brilliance to appear, like clear skies at a festival
    when the balloons go up. How else could it have been precisely
    what it ought to be, and permanently etched in consciousness...
    have set aright what threatened peace, and steadied everything
    except what absolutely HAD (though not without a sting) to be
    released?

    Now understand, it sticks there in your memory, and the effect is
    not to make the unremarkable less prepossessing than it started
    out. Because, you see, there’s love on every street in every town,
    you just don’t often notice it when colorlessly gowned and not
    barenaked. In galoshes and a raincoat, love blends pleasantly, as
    Mrs. Piggle Wiggle might if she were one of dozens on a bus, though
    if you paid attention you’d see liveliness and magic snapping in the
    bright eyes. What love does is fill you up with inspiration so you
    want to add a splash of it to anything that isn’t dancing,
    shimmering, or spiced... not discontented with the way things are,
    you simply have too much by far to hold, and it is frisky, eager to be
    in the throng, and bold; it strains and scrambles to be free, like
    twenty or a hundred frogs you’ve got in pockets, cuffs, tucked in
    your shirt, beneath your hat, stuck to your brow, and never have
    you wanted a companion more than now.

    LOVE LAUGHS OUT LOUD

    So what you do is skip a little farther on the river path until, oh,
    marvelous and happy day! There’s Christopher! You ask him, did he
    see it too, barenaked love? He did, and he is awfully glad you named
    it just exactly that, for he’s a bit more reticent than you. And then
    you take his hand, and pretty soon you’re skipping, tripping over
    frogs but keeping perfect time, the two of you, and laughing till you
    fear you’ll (pee your pants) of which the thought brings on another
    tidal wave of laughter—which, you are delighted to discover, is a
    rocket launcher, flinging you into the fairyland you thought was
    strictly fictional, where laughter is not only mandatory but beyond a
    doubt the sweetest, most appealing, bright and blissful, silly,
    spilling-over lovely, make-you-crazy thing to do for fun with
    someone who, like you, has seen barenaked love appear out of the
    blue completely unexpectedly that very serendipitous, delicious
    afternoon.

Barenaked Love
  • 45 pages 8-1/2 x  8-3/4
  • laminated front & back covers
  • white plastic comb binding