When does love begin?
I have a memory that I think is from before I was born, where everything is dense and fluid pressing up against me like an ocean. From this familiarity and safety, a kind of love may have already begun. And who could deny that babies love their mother, that most intimate relationship?
The poems in my newest published book, Comorbidity, explore the origins of love. It is up on Kindle and also as a paperback print edition. These poems chronicle the influences of childbirth, mother, family ties, ghosts and lovers on love’s arc throughout my lifetime.
Beginning with Mother’s Love, the poems move from a child’s perspective on love to an adult’s. Later in life, love follows patterns set down over years of accumulated experiences, with comorbidities along the way. Events we can’t help but recall insert themselves in each new relationship.
Even how we sense the world around us becomes a kind of love, remembering scenes we cherish, and the words of our loved one’s. Memories trace a line of fullness and comfort from the past through to the present, however stark it may seem.
The sections in Comorbidity are Mother’s Love, Women’s Voices, Ghostly Love, Comorbid Love, Family Ties, and Meetings.
Here are the first and last poems in my new book. I hope you will enjoy them, and the ones between as well!
midnights, I look for that prenatal embrace
where my first love was born cell by cell
inside of your flesh and blood
lost, I seek out the voiceless warmth
instinctively remembered that I can’t remake
and long to float gravity-free
in the thick sea of your womb
in these dark hours, I listen for Chopin’s murmurs
your fingers coaxed from the old piano keys
when you played for you and gave the memory to me
trailing, pounding, yearning, weeping his melodies
across your layers of skin and muscle
where they reached my submerged fetal ears
and soothed me inside your impenetrable cave
I search with eyes, ears, fingertips, and memory
for that place where every ghostly love, every longing, began
today the subway steps smell of cantaloupe
a funky summer garden musk melon
remember when green leaves give way to buds
and how the wrinkled melons ripen in the sun
the leaves shrivel and stems curl brown
hiding the peach orange and dewy inside
musk melons, mother called them
sounded like relatives or friends
a name so dark and sweet
like the heavy scent on the iron stairs
leading up into February’s dirty chill
into the New York City sidewalks
where a line of wet orange plastic cones
wait beneath iron construction cranes
— J.J. Brown 2018
Find the new ebook here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07JYS3DNP/
And the paperback version here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729368832/
The Goodreads link is: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42542029-comorbidity
Readers, will you please share your review of Comorbidities on Amazon or Goodreads, your favorite book sites, and social media? I look forward to your thoughts.