By Jack Gilbert

I call it exile, or being relegated
I call it the provinces.
And all the time it is my heart.
My imperfect heart which prefers
this distance from people. Prefers
the half-meetings which cannot lead
to intimacy. Provisional friendships
that are interrupted near the beginning.
A pleasure in not communicating.
And inside, no despair or longing.
A taste for solitude. The knowledge
that love preserves freedom in always
failing. An exile by nature. Where,
indeed, would I ever be a citizen?