Poetry Friday: “The Measure of a Love”

I hope you’ll pardon my absence for the past couple of Fridays; 2020, the year that will go down in infamy, officially ended with the death of my mother, Virginia, on New Year’s Eve.

She had been in a nursing home for the past 5 years or so, but began seriously declining over the summer, when she was placed on hospice; at the time, none of us thought she would make it to the end of the year.

But in true Mom form, she wasn’t going to go until she was ready – and that meant hanging on until literally the beginning of the new year, just minutes after New Zealand and the folks on the other side of the world were greeting 2021 for the first time.

“I’ll show them,” she must have been thinking, as she peacefully and quietly slipped from her sleep, my father by her side.

Mom & Dad at their 50th anniversary celebration, 2009.

It has been difficult saying goodbye these past few weeks, as I could only visit her in person twice, with full PPE gear on – but it’s been especially difficult for Dad, whose quarantined nursing home room now has an empty bed to remind him of what happened. But if there’s any good news in this – aside from the fact that she’s no longer in pain – it’s that she and Dad were able to spend an incredible amount of time together, holding hands, reminiscing, and reminding each other of their love.

Dad told me how hard it was to be there watching her slowly die each day, and I can’t imagine how hard that must have been, but I reminded him that it was a blessing in that so many of us regret we never had a chance to tell our loved ones what we should have told them; Mom and Dad had months to do that. I’m so grateful for everything they’ve done for me.


The Measure of a Love
……….for Forrest and Virginia

Love. How does one measure such a thing?
An inch is always exactly so long; likewise,
a liter always a liter. No more, no less. Circumference
of a circle, area of a rhombus – these things
we determine precisely with absolute specificity. No guessing,
no quandaries. Quadratic equations, memorized formulas
reassure us of certainty, definiteness. Everything
as it should be, ordered and cyclical. Yet, love…

How does one measure such a thing?

Hard enough to plot a point. How long the line radiates,
unfixed; mass, velocity, speed are subject to fluctuation. Never
straight, it twists and curls like a series of French curves
laid end-to-end, upside down and backwards, so that none
can claim an obvious theorem or divine proportion. Let this,
then, be the formulary: 2 hearts plus 61 years multiplied
by the grace of God, times infinite kind words and kisses, never
divided nor subtracted – always multiplied, multiplied,
multiplied. There is no taking away. This, after all, is love.

And how does one measure such a thing?

© 2021 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved

Today, Sylvia Vardell is our Poetry Friday hostess, so head over to her blog, Poetry for Children, for the complete link roundup AND a long list of all the cool new poetry books coming out this year for young people!


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23 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: “The Measure of a Love”

  1. Oh Matt – how hard for you to have to say goodbye in this way at this time. I love that you found the silver lining and your tribute to both your mother and to your parents’ love is just beautiful. Hugs to you from the other side of the world.


  2. Kay Mcgriff

    I am so sorry. It is always hard to lose those we love, and even more difficult during these days. Your poem is a beautiful tribute to your parents’ love. It must have blessed so many.


  3. Pingback: Poetry Friday: Poetry & picture books – an interview with Linda Brennan – Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

  4. Matt, I missed Poetry Friday last week because we were in Virginia at the new house waiting for the bedroom furniture delivery and my granddaughter’s first birthday. So I am finally reading your tribute to love. It is such an endearing poem of two faithful lovers. I am amazed by the beautiful flow to your words as they unfolded to the end. My sincerest condolences I send to you and your family.


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