Where we meet to share sections of succulent tangerines, opening juicy surprises; secrets of sweetness or delicious shuddering sourness, We burst and pucker up to be undone by our own kisses.
You fall asleep under your wide wicker hat; a long fallen tree, sun bleached white and grey as gulls, battered by waves for your pillow, The contours of your body fitted to the earth, supported and held by every grain of sparkling sand, you sink into the warmth, your breathing rhythmic with the tides, pulling back to expose hidden treasures, rushing forward to fill up all the empty places, caressing and smoothing, pressing and rippling; our dream is made true when you sit up and smile because we are really here.
Happy Anniversary to my husband, best friend and lover, who has explored and discovered and walked this planet earth with me the whole time. Life began with you.
I don’t know if when we took our vows I understood much about ‘in health and in sickness’ or what would be ‘for better’ or what could be ‘worse’ for the wear as if I’d need to promise I wouldn’t run away at the first sign of trouble or stick around for the last of it, I just knew it was gonna always be you and me, together, the way sometimes you feel like a lone tiger, fiercely able to fend for yourself and willing to roam, and the way sometimes I feel like a hermit, chasing trespassers and their offspring, those baby strollers and toddlers tethered with domesticated canines; miniature chihuahuas, elongated dachshunds, stubby corgis, and a lunk-headed pit-bull away from my tomato plants and petunias. . . How we both slip the old Ukrainian a little cash when he asks for our empties to add up nickel after nickel, his broken english growling, Putin is bad, rolling his R’s, he points to his chest and simply says, Andre
and Sorry. . .
and he wants to kiss our hands regardless of Corona Virus and he repeats over and over, God Bless You.
And it isn’t that spring passed us by, it arrived late, barely enough time to sow last seasons sunflower seeds, and more aphids than roses bloomed early, and then our lawnmower broke.
I do know when we sat in the emergency room, waiting for the weak-kneed technician who sounded like the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz to take your blood pressure, he asked, did we want to hear a joke and he said it’s okay to say no, when we hesitated,
You said, ok sure, the way you get put on the spot and act polite but unconvinced, and so we listened to him practice the same bad joke, a technique employed to bring people joy, he explained, on the next patient and the next and the next, from behind thin closed doors and partitioned walls, we listened to him only making things worse,
so when your eyes met my eyes, without words, we agreed.
I do know when the Specialist finally came in on her day off. . .
after five hours and five different Registered Nurses wrangled with your body as if you weren’t even there, fondling and groping and poking you in places not even I had explored in all our years, I felt crushed as they crushed you, stretching you to the limit, I watched each one fail at the same procedure, and how they let you keep your socks on so you wouldn’t get cold feet, a hospital crucifix hung above your head, Jesus staring his own pain outwardly, as if to say he had enough problems of his own and wasn’t going to carry your water,
. . .she whisked in, smacked her enormous blue leather purse among hygienically packaged medical supplies, and asked me directly if I was going to be okay, as in, was I the type who faints, was I going to be in the way. . . squeezed between the small sink and the gurney and her purse, and your feet, I thought, if there’s room for a purse that big, there’s room enough for me in this/her walk-in closet, make-shift as it is and I replied about the time I volunteered for Red Cross carrying warm blood packs with my own two hands to the cool ice chests after student bodies Gave, yes I’ll be ok, and Jeremy, her clumsy but kind assistant, validated how I’d been here with you the whole time. . .
And I’m not leaving, no one could ever make me leave. And then I told you to breathe. And you did. So did they. The specialist doctor and the registered nurse. All at once. You all exhaled like one great big breath. And the air in the middle of the room opened up so much, it actually changed the light.
I know a man who fell in love with a woman with a Snow Shovel. She told him, music to her ears is a Senate hearing roll call, Knowing when to shut up and eat Piping hot cornbread and real maple syrup is an intimate conversation; So beautiful~ the shape of green bananas, they make her cry. And what is it about a Lily with a loaded pistil in it’s mouth that makes her remember grandma’s nursing home run by that awful woman named Hope?
When she takes her boots off, she ends up barefoot in the kitchen.
I didn’t care where we went, I didn’t care what we did, I was ready and it was okay if I made you run late, for taking the time to swing by and pick me up, which you insisted on because it would be better with me along for the ride, my company no matter how brief, you’d take how ever long you could get
I watched the petals drop from a yellow rose, tucked under a tangle of chamomile blossoms in Sarah’s bouquet while I waited by the window and listened for the sound of your work truck, for the tires to crunch on the gravel
You liked what I was wearing, you said, I looked cute in your company logo and that it might be harder to work, now that you felt a little distracted and if we had a forty minute break, we could kiss the whole time
We followed the interstate under the flight of turkey buzzards, past the wildflower freeway medians, through the patchwork farm country, berry brambled and littered with semi-truck truck stops, truck lined weigh centers, silo trucking docks, eyed license plates from Iowa and Idaho and Washington and pulled up to the sound of a lonely rooster in historic (a.k.a. broken down) downtown Donald, that boasted of Hazelnuts and a population of 979 (more or less) where we parked next to railroad tracks as abundant as the neighborhood streets themselves
The clouds that passed, rode on a warm breeze and a layer of darkness threatening to scatter showers between sun breaks and a jogger jogged, sporting shoes the same color orange as the Road Work Ahead sign, posted beneath flapping safety flags
You put on your red bandana rubber-banded mask and got out to social distance with the sales agent, asked about the crawl space, and got to inspecting and detecting and site mapping and photo graphing
And I listened to your scanner pitch into a fast screw ball, and a morning dove coo cooing a lullaby, watched you walk paces in your boots, and the finches, the sparrows, the starlings, the chickadees, the crows, the swifts, the juncos, the jays more abundant than hazelnuts and railroad ties, seemed to skitter and hop and flit and swoop and dart and perch and spy and gather and deliver and pair and fly and sing 979 (more or less) different birdsongs while I waited for you and wrote this love poem.
My Love… is paper scissors bedrock, the potential of blank paper.
Same as knowing what it feels like to be a lodgepole pine and stand still in forests, while lovers carve hearts and initials
The trunk that forms a swollen burl after repeated shocks,
protective in the evidence of how obvious how innocent how intentional how sensitive
in the face of,
in light of… those arabesques
expressed through lucid but deep cuts
until I become your sweet cambium peels…
Reaching a perfect pitch requiring fire and heat to release…
upon a floor, blanketed in a cushion
of soft and sharp needles, patient
sugar water; the same nutrition and poultice that eases you
more useful than firewood
I am revolving doorways and bay windows with bench seats that secretly open into chests full of books, the eaves and the rafters and the beams, and fences to climb over and railroad ties;
you chewing on my most succulent insides
each disturbance of habitat
sending sudden and bursting new
self aware and
our roots; connected intertwined traveling
to and away, tethered and anchored,
from the rising and expanding
of witnessing everything
while Matisse acquires many paper cuts to float above his quilts.
He makes his choice of pink table cloths and lemons, goldfish swimming like tangerine crescents, caresses his favorite dove, never mentioning turnip country again,
or her flatness,
or her darkness,
or her wetness.
Instead he hands each intimate shape to Lydia and points, “There.”
She places his silhouettes, like she does her feet according to his dance steps,
a choreography set to the plunking piano keys as played
in bold colors.
Notes as crushing on
as charmed by
as composed and spontaneous as ranunculus
that speak easy underground same as do
victorian tea gardens.
He listens to how
his fingers fit like a glove into a pair of scissors no thanks and in part due to the industrial revolution
and dozes off,
into dreams, a future
where your radio jazz
accompanies a bouquet
that throws confetti from my lap
in order to stop what I am doing to set them in water.
The day after you cut down the noble fir tree and Tom said he hoped it would snow, I asked you to take me to the funky lesbian-owned pet store on Division, so I could pick out a fish. The store was hot and muggy and smelled of living creatures, longing to escape their glass tanks and see-through plastic carriers. Children accompanied their parents through aisles of box turtles and geckos and snakes and all of the rumble fish were lethargic but one.
I told the punk-rock cashier girl that I was naming him Neptune and she said he was mighty handsome.
We took Neptune to the coast and explained to the people that came up to learn what we were doing on the beach, that this was his first time returning home, and everybody looked at my tiny fish looking out at the enormous ocean, and agreed he was something special to see, here, of all places, where Haystack Rock juts from the crashing waves, skirted in fog until sun breaks illuminate her deep green peaks and landings.
You shouted out to me, how the tide was coming in fast, as I lied on my belly and steadied my shot, and then you scrambled to rescue Neptune’s jar, and the camera I held, as I kneeled in the waves, caught off guard and suddenly soaked, trying to run before I was even standing,
ending up laughing with you laughing with me too.
And I told you how unexpected and wonderful to be embraced by the ocean and brought into playfulness without effort all because of a tiny fish who flares his face like a sweet pea blossom, feeling like a firecracker.
I opened my eyes in the early morning darkness to you wanting
to hold me and we stayed
in bed until the sunlight came up when we could see each other smiling.
We never wanted to get out of bed,
while we talked about not being able to wait to get back to the ocean and we kissed
before You poured me coffee, before you showered, while I read your poem
that said when you looked into my eyes you felt safe.
100 lashes against his cheek, impressing him with a flurry of
butterfly kisses, as I bat my eyes,
we talk about
How it can survive frost because of what is deep down,
chrysalis or seed~
all hibernations reflect this truth
and our listening,
although sometimes winging it,
emerges into swallowtails.
I don’t wonder, “Who is gonna hold my hand?”
Our hands reach out for each other when
we climb up hill and
to the top, some peak,
but we make it
because we are holding hands. . .
I don’t gotta wonder, “Who is gonna hold my hand?”
Our hands find each other in the dark
along forest paths where the moon beams fail to penetrate
we trust our footsteps
from all the times before
no matter what changed
until we find that lamp light
when you asked
for my hand in marriage
and I said
I don’t gotta wonder, “Who is gonna hold my hand?”
Our hands hold fast
when I get the call
that explains my mom is in the hospital
and how you say everything will be okay
just by giving my hand a squeeze
and I know, no matter what
we made our hand prints
for all of time
and no ocean can wash them away.