Carol Ann Duffy: Whatever

In the world of achingly beautiful poetry, two poets come immediately to mind: Donald Hall (and his gut-punch of a collection Without) and Carol Ann Duffy. Such is the case in “Whatever,” a piece by piece breakdown of all the heartbreak of missing a loved one.


I’ll take your hand, the left,
and ask that it still have life
to hold my hand, the right,
as I walk alone where we walked,
or to lie all night to my breast,
at rest, or to stop all talk with a finger
pressed to my lips.

I’ll take your lips,
ask, when I close my eyes, as though
in prayer, that they ripen out of the air
to be there again on mine,
or to say my name, or to smile, or to kiss
the sleep from my eyes. I’ll take

your eyes,
nothing like, lovelier under, the sun,
and ask that they wake to see, to look
at me, even to cry, so long as I feel their tears
on your face, warm rain on a rose.

Your face I’ll take, asleep, ask that I learn,
by heart, the tilt of your nose, or awake, and ask
that I touch with my tongue the soft buds of the lobes
of your ears

and I’ll take them, too
ask that they feel my breath shape
into living words, that they hear.

I’ll take your breath
and ask that it comes and goes, comes and goes, forever,

like the blush under your cheek, and I’ll even settle for that. Whatever.

Want to catch up on the other National Poetry Month poems? Check out the original post for a full list.

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