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10 Teary-Eyed Poems on Love, Loss, and the Meaning of Life

In honor of #NationalPoetryMonth, our favorite submissions from the 2015 Reader's Digest Poetry Contest reflect on life's major emotional moments, from romance to grief.

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After the Death of Their Child

How the memory wormed its way
into a photograph, leaving only paper.
How he piloted ever-lengthening flights,
taking blue comfort away from earth
while she stayed home with the houseplants,
their assemblage of books,
the knowledge she could find tarragon,
sage, any herb she’d ever need.
How they said nothing, and loved
each other even in another’s arms.
How he steered forward, she stood still;
he spoke, and she wrote it down. And they watched
across miles, miles of marriage
as the small voice between them grew up.

(Inspired by the story of Charles and Anne Lindbergh)
By Jenny Land

Check out the other winners of the 2015 Reader’s Digest Poetry Contest or these unforgettable love poems.

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Stockings

The delicate cobwebbed stockings are scarred with stitches.
Fresh tears like flesh wounds gape at kneecap and heel from
a day of pounding pavement, waiting in soup kitchen queues.
They are soaked in the tin washtub, rinsed of the day’s grime
of sweat and silt and hung to dry, fluttering on the clothesline
or draped over a chair. The fading luxury of silk, her last pair.
Every night she attempts to repair the damage, to weave them
into wearability. Runs are scratched into silk, where they will
spread like the routes and rivers on a cartographer’s map. She
bathes her blistered, callused feet. Her bare legs are smudged
and soiled, her toenails the color of stone, her skin cracked and
leathery as old shoes. In the morning, she crosses legs sheathed
with spiderwebs, arranging her skirt to hide the latest darning.

By Jessica Goody

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Ella: Of Infinite Possibilites

Wide-eyed in wonder,
Ella beholds the world.
“How old are you?”
her grandfather asks.
She holds up five fingers.
Ella traces her grandfather’s mosaic of wrinkles,
touching his face with those same five fingers.
Seeing tears form in her dark, dark eyes,
he asks: “Why so sad?”
“Because you are shrinking.”
“But I am not sad,” Grandfather replies.
“Why not?”
“Because you are growing.”

By Jacqueline Seewald

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The Saver

Today I thought I’d clean out the trunk,
And throw away some of that worn-out junk,
The little red overalls, worn at the knee,
The raggedy sweater, used by my three,
The faded old jacket that Kenny wore
The first time he went with his Dad to the store,
The myriad anklets, many unmatched,
And several wee shirts, patched and unpatched,
The dress that’s too small for Betty to wear,
The ribbon that never would stay in her hair,
Paul’s baby cap his old woolen bunting,
Small worn things for which I’d been hunting,
Oh, I sorted out lots of worn-out junk,
Then I tenderly packed it all back in the trunk.

By Kathleen Wastlund

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She Suffers This Fool Gladly

The years have flown since we first wed—
your hair’s now gray, mine’s left my head.
Our achy bodies groan and creak,
but holding you still makes me weak
with pleasure. Maybe I don’t tell
you often—how you ring my bell!
It’s true my memory’s antique,
but holding you still makes me weak.
You make me blaze within your flame—
I love you, dear old what’s-your-name.
I’m flummoxed by female mystique,
but holding you still makes me weak.
The years have flown since we first wed,
but holding you still makes me weak.

By Barbara Blanks

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Rainbow

My wife is in a panic,
She found a gray hair today.
She asked if I’ll still love her
When she’s gone completely gray.

I told her not to worry
And she shouldn’t look so sad.
I’ve loved her through three colors
And one more can’t be so bad.

By R. Wayne Edwards

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Encounter

From the window of the Albergo Fiorentino
I watched the two embrace on the Arno River Bridge,
A postcard greeting to the lonely, a lesson in what
Love can do to change a loveless world.
All around the young lovers night was closing down,
The moonlight hanging like halos above their heads,
And if the world were to end in mid-kiss,
If the threatened bombs were to make good their promises,
These two would die without tears and trembling.
I turn away at last and drink my Charbonnet.

By Salvatore Buttaci

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Eternally

How can we
remember?

A scent. A smile. A slice of lemon cake
frosted and much too sweet.
It was your favorite.

A voice. A hand in mine. Time.

A sock. A belt. A worn, wool sweater
scratchy and rough against my cheek.
A drawer stuffed with receipts.

Your silver pick-up parked by the garage
where you last left it and me
that day the ambulance drove you away
and forgot to bring you home.

I loved you then. I miss you now.

Eternally.

By Nancy Abeshaus

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Tribute to My Grandmother

If my grandmother were a window,
through her I would see
a treasure chest of hand carved tiger maple
filled with buttons and silk and amber necklaces,
candied fruit slices, chocolate covered marzipan,
a furry dog that said bow wow
and looked at you with adoring eyes,
and a piano that played twinkle twinkle little star
with trills and arpeggios,
and she’d twirl and twirl in a linen dress
that caressed a landscape of rosewater and lavender.
“May everything good you can imagine happen to you.”

By Eva Schlesinger

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Folly Beach

Pelicans, black
as my Daddy’s hair
never come close.
It’s so lonely there,
but a comfort to sit
wrapped in seaswell
and skies
as distant and weathered
as my Daddy’s eyes.

By Sandra Barlow

Originally Published in Reader's Digest