Hymn to Marriage
I wear your sadness like a mantle in the wind
and ask who are you, lover of men,
one who came by chance and stayed for a
Mornings I rested in a claw foot tub
with a crystal lake beyond the window,
an ancient hymn inside: water before me, water
water beneath me, water above me, water in
mouth of friend and stranger.
"You do not have to love him": I wore these words
as a shield.
There was snow that winter, day upon day.
The car's engine turned over with a growl
and curled like a sleeping cat, dead until spring.
I saw the landlord toss sand on the icy walk,
grit fine enough for a pencilled path up the stairs.
I followed that path, to rooms asking
for love in cold light. When I made
the walk around the lake, he was beside me.
When I toured the supermarket, he kept a hand on
Old illnesses, Tuesday nights playing bridge,
awkward as teenagers, we traded news of
Do I have that presence, presence in absence?
Do I have the right to call myself your bride?
So we come to live in the same house,
the same sky. Flags billow in the wind.
I did not raise these flags, but I salute them,
how they bend to another's will.
Your slippers in the street, my hairpins
gathered at the birdbath will be madness
one day. We longed for other language,
for speech unrolling in carpet down the hall.
The catbirds follow from window to window,
piercing what is silent in you, in me.
Insane with hope that turns to greed,
we wait for the berries to ripen. The bounty
of this life - growth in damp profusion,
colors of every hue. I think you made these blooms
with your steady belief. Why then must we fasten
peach and ochre to the dining room table?
I give you the kitchen floor, my warrior,
my artist. I give you a new masterpiece each day
at noon - the walk to the mailbox.
If I could send the letter you desire
it would say "I know," let the rock wall
in the living room
tumble, let the animals sleep in peace.
Potentially, might be ...