A Poem by Gregory Orr

From Selected Books of the Beloved

August 17, 2022  By Gregory Orr

Even before speech
Revealed your secret,
There was looking.

Even before song
That gave you away,
There was gazing.

The beloved felt
Your eyes upon her;
He dimly understood
Why you looked at him
That way.


Of the eyes: the stare
And the glimpse.

The glance that lingers.


Her eye and my “I”:
Her gazing
Creates me.

His voice and my
Ear—I’m seized
By hearing.

How because
Of the beloved
I come into being.

Under her touch,
All of me shudders.


The world looks
In all directions
Like that vase
Of chrysanthemums
On the table.
But the beloved
Looks only at you.

How easy to choose.

Yes, the flowers
Are beautiful

But the beloved’s gaze
Makes you beautiful, too.


Selected Books of the Beloved

From Selected Books of the Beloved, copyright 2022 by Gregory Orr, used by permission of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org.

Gregory Orr
Gregory Orr
Gregory Orr is the author of more than ten collections of poems, including, most recently, The Last Love Poem I Will Ever Write. He is also the author of several volumes of essays, criticism, and memoir, including Poetry as Survival and A Primer for Poets and Readers of Poetry. Recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters for The Blessing, Orr was the founder and director of the MFA Program in Writing at the University of Virginia, and the longtime poetry editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review. He lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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