Love Test: A Ghazal

The sign on the wall read: Test on Love
Coming Soon.
"My God," I thought, "a test on love!"

I felt the familiar panic,
the tightening in my chest. On love

I'd be lucky if I pulled a C-.
I've always made a mess of love.

It's not as if I haven't tried.
Why, I've even gone in quest of love.

I've studied, done research, pulled all-nighters,
but I can't master the lesson. Love

and its meaning seem to elude me,
though I've given my best to love.

I trembled at the thought of the upcoming exam,
knew I'd never get the gist of love.

What if the teacher called me in front of the class
and made this request: "On love

please speak extemporaneously"?
I'd look like a fool when I confessed, "On love

I can't speak at all." Or worse, an essay question
demanding some new twist on love!

What if it were fill-in-the-blanks that required
memorization of the entire text of love?

What if my answers were stupid or trite,
seemingly given in jest of love?

Maybe I'd get lucky—multiple choice or true and false.
Then at least I could guess on love.

If nothing else worked, I could always throw up
a prayer: "Dear God, let me be blessed in love."

Don't let me suffer the shame of hearing,
Diane, once again, you've received an F in love.

by Diane Lockward

Diane Lockward is the author of Eve's Red Dress and What Feeds Us (Wind Publications, 2003, 2006). Recent work appears in Poet Lore, Spoon River Poetry Review, and Prairie Schooner, as well as in the anthologies Poetry Daily: 366 Poems from the World's Most Popular Poetry Website and Garrison Keillor's Good Poems for Hard Times. Diane works as a poet-in-the schools for the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

Table Of Contents    Next Poem(s)    Guidelines