What does Valentine’s Day mean to you?
To me, after decades of marriage, it offers another opportunity to celebrate the rock my life is built on. Rock is not fluffy or romantic or subject to the pull of the moon. It is hard. It endures. It provides a place to build.
The Valentine’s Day that the card makers want me to celebrate is something very different. A tentative, anonymous, slightly cowardly request “to be mine”. A clumsy expression of courtly love that is ninety per cent ritual and ten per cent duty. An outpouring of lust-driven affection that would be better delivered in person.
These all feel a long way away from my own experience.
I went looking for a poem to celebrate today with. Most of what I found was shiny toffee verses wrapped around over-ripe apples of dubious taste.
Then I found Carol Ann Duffy’s “Valentine”.
It’s not so much a celebration as a challenge to be truthful.
It’s not for the romantically minded but it’s truthful (painfully so) and the images made me smile.