My fabulous friend M has asked me more than once to post this, so I figured I should. Enjoy!
Remembering Rehoboth After Seven Years of Marriage
~for S, of course
May 17, 2004
A dozen years ago, you held my hand
in public for the first time, giddy at the audacity of it,
both of us tipsy from too much fingertip touch.
You kept me always within reach. It was early spring,
off-season in Rehoboth Beach, cold enough for gloves.
We said we were falling in love, but did we fall?
Sometimes it felt like flying, elated and insatiable,
sometimes like plunging into dark waters, astonished
and a little afraid. I thought that you could save me,
though I couldn’t say from what, or whom, or why.
I knew the strong Rehoboth riptide. I knew
the rough Atlantic waves. A dozen years ago,
I thought I was a drowning woman. I thought
all California boys were lifeguards, tanned and blond
like you. I feared the water, but I told you
I could swim.
Most of the shops were still shut for the season,
but for me a world was opening, opening like an envelope,
my heart delivered postage due. You put it in your pocket,
a letter you’d read later, at your leisure. I didn’t mind at all.
We walked along the boardwalk, in a fog of lust and laughter.
Everything amused us. See you soon! was scribbled on a fading sign
in the window of a closed Chinese restaurant —
it seems strange, now, to remember
how funny we thought that was.
We repeated it over and over,
See you soon! Was it a spoken charm
against the chance of separation,
even if only for a little while? See you soon!
I could not imagine being anywhere that you were not.
With you, I was learning a language of broken seashells
swept to shore by winter storms. Greedy for souvenirs
of our first trip together, we collected more than we could carry.
Piled them up, picked out the best, and stuffed our pockets full.
To me, the mottled, polished whorls seemed sacred,
safe, symbolic of a spiraling secret we almost understood,
symbolic of the riotous abundance of our love.
We had so much, we had to leave something behind.
See you soon! we said in unison, delighted with ourselves
and with each other.
A dozen years ago, I held your hand
and waded into frigid waters, laughing.
Rehoboth was a name for promises
we hardly knew how to make. We made them anyway.
And keep them still. Just as we keep those broken shells,
those fragile, organic reminders. I have carried them
from Delaware, the state where I was born, to Tulsa, Oklahoma,
where I lived a long two years without you, landlocked and alone.
What joy to box them up and ship them all to Arizona,
where you were. Where I would be soon. Together,
we have moved them from house to house, from Tucson
to California, the state where you were born, the place we have conceived
a life for both of us — and, if all goes well, a child.
Gathering dust on our bookshelves, a dozen years later,
each shell still echoes with the shush of early spring surf,
the shush of a liquid librarian who tried to quiet
our boisterous hearts as we pilfered the shelves of the world.
We were searching for a book that is not yet finished,
calling out to each other with lines of poetry, favorite passages
from old novels, witty words we had to share. We thought
the world was written for us. If we were falling in love
a dozen years ago, then we are falling still. Still calling out
a silly saying or a lovely lyric line from time to time.
Who knows what wings will open at our backs
before we’re through; who knows what depths
we will dive into? Wine-dark waters surrounding us
as we kick deeper and deeper, until the only sound left
is the rushing of water and the pulse of our incorrigible hearts.
(Yes, we still have those shells, dustier yet but still on the shelves. And yes, it's further proof that I've become an incorrigible blogger that I would take a pic of them and post it!)