Note: As the earth rotated through another vernal equinox, my wife Mary and I celebrated the 25th anniversary of a day in Boston when I served her a poem called “Invitation.” We count that day as the beginning of our relationship, and as a day even more noteworthy than our wedding day, on the autumn equinox seven and a half years later. What follows are excerpts from a poem marking the occasion last week. // JSS
Memos for the Next Twenty-Five Years
Your red dress and leather jacket in Brookline.
You rented a room from a family named Antler.
This should have been a message to me:
animals would gather on us like moss.
I communed with a skunk around a garbage can
in a dead silent, achingly cold early morning walk
away from your apartment. One sunrise we awoke
on a cold spring porch to find two squirrels,
One laying upon the other calmly,
looking at us from a limb on porch level.
If our love was a street sign, William
Christenberry would have stolen it.
“You take care of your family
and I’ll take care of mine.”
This was the first time we were recognized
as what we were becoming.
In the middle of the spring night,
visiting the horse in the barn
Beneath a thousand hovering swallows
A mile walk to Bull Street
with ten bags of groceries.
The dog at the daycare fence knew you
so you took him home.
Cardamom husks. Emptiness.
Everything fell with the towers
but us. Everyone in love
Must have felt that.
We suddenly find ourselves
with a view of ancient gods.
Why are we so at home
under these foreign skies?
We suddenly find ourselves
again. Spring expands to summer.
People bring you stories
and you show them the stories’ faces.
Outside is the cat with the human face.
And others. Inside, another face:
Sophia’s. And I am home, with you
and her and the animal kingdom.
So much joy, so little work.
But I can hear the clock ticking
to find a safe haven as surely
as I can hear the second heart
beating inside you.
We moved from magnolias
to snow and road salt.
I wore suits to work. I dreamed
our daughter’s name.
I held your hand in wonder
as the doctor unwound
the cord that had stopped Aurora
from rising; free, she blustered forth.
But held still in Granny’s arms,
both dozing in their own direction,
In late summer light.
That most rich May!
Wandering the desert of our basement
even the camel-backed cricket
finds its oasis.
Back in a big old house
in a small old town.
The proportions of anxiety
slowly shrink back to the size
of stray cats. Surrounded
by tombstones and gypsies
we are calm, and
Our old soul companion has fallen.
Music is filling the house
flowing out from the windows
The moon clambers over
an abandoned building to listen with me.
Our dogs spread out in the backyard
below like quarter notes across
a hilly composition.