A Poem to my wife in which I remember
(Part one) 4-6/2001
* this is a slightly edited version of the original in keeping with a public forum. I have also chosen to hold parts 2-4 for another time.
1989. Tall Grass Praire near Prue OK, where I asked you to be my wife.
how it was when we sped away
bandits in a get away - into a red-neck traffic jam,
all those laughing groomsmen
GOONSMEN! boxing us in, and forcing us to low ride
in a lurch parade
near on empty, even then.
As it is, Dennis
that righteous menace,
wired a horn
to our brake light.
We grinned and bore
the din and stare, hoping everyone would see
the streaming silly paper and the shaving cream
We were good sports too:
We smacked lip, as strangers turned
first to frown, then to smile.
We honked our way into
each red light or curve
riding fumes to the station.
Remember those few awkward hours,
just before a dinner invitation for our evening.
(too few for breaking boundaries –
too many for our new permission.)
Silly me - I'd agreed to appease my
step-dad with a slide show of my travels
meant I guess, to impress our out of town guests.
Time that should have been ours
to talk, touch, or pray
whittled away against all these pictures
of a past life…
and a freedom I would never see again.
Later … when some guests
felt awkward for us and the pining hours
they pushed us out
into the unknown air;
My new apartment, with the new sheets
dressed for us.
And now … what to do?
We were tired to the bone.
Months of planning with a week of cram.
Big swirling wedding. Big swirling day.
Moments that would blur among the smiles
and the guests and cake
only to be made alive
(I know now why they take them --
Not so much to remember,
but to believe
that anything happened at all.)
So we arrived -
wed, licensed, and approved
to cross the threshold.
For a moment I faltered … May be we should go to sleep
I mean, really sleep.
We had waited decades, why not wait another night.
But you knew … some rituals
are not for breaking
so you sent me away, for the moment.
In a moment we would pray;
Invite God to join us in the unknown
and the years ahead.
And I laid my head on you
and fell into the crest
of my world’s softest wave.
my Kerry, like your name - a high green meadow --
or …like a hidden island off the coast of Wales ..
all rustic and wild ….
We, tame Baptist or Presbyterian boys that we were,
Had spied your ramparts, draped under fog
But no boat had ever pressed your shore.
You called the wind aside, and bid me dock
I walked the Rolling hills, and Heather,
I felt my way along the path
of a sturdy land
that you had saved for me.
that next day
when we joined
a clang of happy vultures at the table.
Our families had a legacy and recipe to guard,
we tried not to smile when they asked:
"So you like being married?"
(And we did.)
how it was, in that first week or month--
all these forever first-time things,
in an avalanche of newness.
It was kind of like being born, and seeing it.
Indeed, if something's going to be new …
Why not make it everything.
First time sheets
and first time dishes
first time popcorn popper
first time lead crystal things that I just don’t get, even now.
first time to ever check into a motel and say …
“This is my wife”, and smile at the clerk.
First time shopping (would it have been our last!)
First time to hear, What is wrong with men anyway?
First time ever to come home to a candle-lit meal
after having eaten two cheese burgers
out of single habit.
the Honeymoon - two weeks of Westward Ho!
You sat with me so close
in something like a constant swoon.
Believe it --- you did.
that small Texas Town--
We never really saw it, but I stood, like a Japanese tourist
under the interstate sign to GROOM.
Remember, trying to save bucks
in Austin, found the low-rent run of motels
left over from the great depression.
A quick whiff of curry and the sight of cigarette burned veneer
sent us off to better things.
Remember the concrete Tepees
and the way that the ground became all wide and hot
like something wide and hot.
the Arizona blue
that dropped into that grand vermilion absence.
Some millions joined us on the rim
but when we slid beneath the skin
with backpacks, He could have dug it just for us;
this weird inverted mountain, like a garden
hidden in the moon.
As it is, you read somewhere that one should take
a gallon of water for every back country mile,
so I portaged in a bathtub, while little old men
in tennis shoes
went whizzing down, then up -- as we lay panting on the trail
and I tried to think of written lines that went with
dying at the Pre-Cambrian.
how much harder, is the Up, than down,
and how we stumbled out near after dark
like we had been in rodeo – all bruised at the bone
and walking in our sleep,
Not even that could stop young love!
Remember our next days --
We headed north into the land of Utah
where everyone should feel
This place gets strange, the Grand is grand, but this
our cosmic treat … three cheers for all the folks who keep
Zion National Park something of a national secret.
Indeed, do you remember the flanks of Zion:
monoliths of muscle red, set like teeth in a ruby jaw.
We saw the lines of our topo-map converged
in vertigo --
the hills crack open – up and under
like and apple pulled apart
We camped with cramps upon
set atop a fertile precipice
of lunge and vibrant greens,
streams of weathered rock
cascading down like rusted trees.
At night, we stood above a
moon lit plunge where pines
grew like “j’s from the walls
and we looked down on