Wild Love

Arda Collins

F.P., I am in love with you beyond anything I can imagine. The azaleas on my street in the spring, the stones in the garden, or the end of the driveway. Not nearly anything can make me love the way I do when I'm with you and we sit next to each other at school. I think about you in the tree where I sit in the afternoons and I can love you, though I cannot imagine who you are. You are filled with contempt, but I don't know that. I remember a forest near an ocean where I listened for the sound of God ready to speak to me. It took so long I thought it might never happen. I slept near the water and God was in the morning air. I do not love F.P. I drew a heart around our initials in my diary once, so long ago, but I didn't mean it anymore. I sat on a forested dune on an island at the bottom of the world. Here, I mourned my dead before they were gone. Next, I saw in a pocked stone the man who raped me. I went into the forest by a manuka tree. In this rape, we were inside an invisible black wind. I focused on the forest until he disappeared. In the morning, the air through the car window blew into my forehead and told me what to do. I left the carcass of this rape by a pine tree, who told another pine tree, etc. By the river where I live there is a pine tree and a willow tree together. They directed me about the afterlife. My parents were dead. I drove past the pine tree and the willow tree and came through the sensation of eternity that had taken hold of me, and the knowledge that the end of my life might never end. One day, there was a man, another man, and another man. They are my sons. Their father came out of the ocean and I said to him, "I love them with wild love."

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Arda Collins is the author of Star Lake (The Song Cave, 2022) and It Is Daylight (2009), winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize, and a recipient of the Sarton Award in Poetry from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Apart from her work as a writer and a teacher, she has also been an associate producer on the PBS documentary series Frontline and American Experience. She teaches at Smith College.

Arda Collins’s second book of poems, Star Lake, is a deeply personal collection that explores the ways our notions of daily life touch the presence of the eternal. With memory as the backdrop of many poems, including the loss of the poet's parents and her experience growing up in a family of survivors from the Armenian genocide, Collins often overlays images of landscapes, weather, and domestic interiors with a tone of melancholy—“Who is the water and who is the light? / A shiver, a love, one you miss, and a wish.” But Star Lake is also a collection of love poems, poems about the creation of new memories with family, tracing out imaginative shapes for their futures. In this Yale Younger Poets award winner’s new collection, Collins returns with truly unforgettable poems that haunt and comfort.

"In spare, riveting lines, Arda Collins’s new poems enact a torque between immediacy and distance, between a visceral near—'An orange in the dark / is like lake air at night,' and a resplendent far—'Down the boulevard … Versailles is everywhere.' Against the shadows of Armenian genocide and family deaths, the speaker’s calls to 'come in the window' or 'come to time' are less commands than invocations and the ground for stunning evocations. This is a book of wonders."
— Arthur Sze

"More than just a book, Star Lake is a tactile experience. A touchable journey wherein each stanza, each image comes to life before a reader. When the wind is summoned in the poem, a breeze blows in through a window you didn't even know you had open. All to say that this is a book of immense brilliance and immense possibility. Beckoning with new revelations around each corner."
— Hanif Abdurraqib

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