Tell me, she whispered, when the kids were down
And the dark of day had drifted over like a welcome shroud,
What is your love?
I knew what she was asking: Could I love elseone elsewhere?
Feel drawn and broken and given to another voice or hand or love?
No, not this way.
Though, being philosophical, I did confess that we are driven to it,
And that the pressure of a hand on a shoulder or the hollow of a back
Could give way to affection, and affection to love.
But I have no such intentions. For we are so familiar that I know the shape
Of every muscle, the declension of every argument, the way her hair will drift
On any given day.
Yet tell me, she murmured, from the beginnings of sleep,
What your love is now that so much has changed, that we have changed
From what we were?
My love, my love is this: that I am here, with you,
Have kept my promises without the need of promises, and still speak love
Into your neck, into the dark.
Photo at top of page: Paeonia, “Pillow Talk”, by James Steakly, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Photo below poem: The poet’s parents, much further on than 18 years.