The first 3 lines of “Cozy Apologia” and its dedication establish the poem’s form and hint at its broader questions. The poem begins with a dedication to “Fred.” This suggests that the poem is autobiographical—since Rita Dove’s husband is named Fred. Most readers thus treat the poem as a meditation on—and a defense of—the pleasures of Dove’s marriage. Indeed, an “apologia” is a poem that defends an idea or concept. This "apologia" will defend the cozy and comfortable: the satisfactions of long-term commitment, even if that commitment lacks the grand passion of a romance novel.
In line 1, the speaker opens the poem talking directly to Fred (an instance of the poetic device apostrophe), testifying to the depth of her passion and love for him. No matter what she thinks about, she thinks of him. In lines 2-3, she then lists a series of mundane things—the lamp on her desk, the quiet rain outside the window, the ink of her pen, drying on the page. All of them, no matter how mundane, remind her of her lover. The tone of these lines is thus cozy, self-assured, comfortable. The speaker has no doubts about the pleasure and power of her relationship. Even the sound of these lines is soft and soothing. Note, for instance, the assonant /u/ sound in “blue” and “exudes”—a sound as smooth as the ink from the speaker’s pen and as comforting as love itself. Indeed, the /u/ sound first appears at the end of line 1, in the word “you.” The assonance thus suggests that the calm and comfort that the speaker experiences comes directly from her lover.
“Cozy Apologia” is a formally uneven poem. Though it is ultimately written in free verse, it starts out in something close to heroic couplets—rhyming lines of iambic pentameter. Lines 1-2 rhyme AA, for instance; the first line of the poem is roughly, but passably, metrical. In the opening lines, with their discussion of the mundane details of everyday life in the modern world—lamps and pens—this formalism feels slightly archaic, old-fashioned, out-of-place. That sense of old-fashionedness—of a disjuncture between the poem’s form and the speaker’s world—amplifies through the rest of the poem’s first stanza.