A Marriage Poem
By Ellen Bryant Voigt
Morning: the caged baby
sustains his fragile sleep.
The house is a husk against weather.
Nothing stirs — inside, outside.
With the leaves fallen,
the tree makes a web on the window
and through it
the world lacks color or texture,
like stones in the pasture
seen from this distance.
This is what is done with pain:
ice on the wound,
the isolating tourniquet —
as though to check an open vein
where the self pumps out of the self
would stop the second movement of the heart,
to love is to siphon loss into that chamber.
What does it mean when a woman says,
if she sits all day in the tub;
if she worries her life like a dog a rat;
if her husband seems familiar but abstract,
a bandaged hand she's forgotten how to use.
They've reached the middle years.
Spared grief, they are given dread
as they tend the frail on either side of them.
Even their marriage is another child,
grown rude and querulous
since death practiced on them and withdrew.
He asks of her only a little lie,
a pale copy drawn from the inked stone
where they loll beside the unicorn,
great lovers then, two strangers
joined by appetite:
It frightens her,
to live by memory's poor diminished light.
She wants something crisp and permanent,
like coral — a crown, a trellis,
an iron shawl across the bed
where they are laced together,
the moon bleaching the house,
their bodies abandoned —
In last week's mail,
still spread on the kitchen table,
the list of endangered species.
How plain the animals are,
but the names lift from the page:
Woundfin. Whooping Crane. Squawfish.
Black-footed Ferret. California Least Tern.
Dearest, the beast of Loch Ness, that shy,
broad-backed, two-headed creature,
may be a pair of whales or manatee,
male and female,
driven from their deep mud nest,
who cling to each other,
circling the surface of the lake.
I would like to say I got lots done on Wednesday, but everything I got done was sort of mental housekeeping, not anything I can show off. Discovered that Tu B'Shvat and Imbolc coincide this year, a rather rare event given that the Jewish holidays move around all over the place in relation to the Western calendar, and since these holidays have quite a bit in common in terms of celebrating the sap running and the light of spring returning, am trying to figure out how to celebrate next weekend since my circle isn't actually celebrating Imbolc till the weekend after the Superbowl (which is very nice for me, since I am going to my oldest friend's annual Superbowl party on the first Sunday in February). Ended up digging up all sorts of ritual stuff and photos, and in the middle of all this, the rabbi who officiated at my son's Bar Mitzvah called -- he's still trying to recruit my son for the middle school confirmation class retreats, which my son has adamantly refused to do, but he is trying to work out independent study otherwise and we had a nice conversation about his new baby and stuff. And we scoffed at the state of dis-union together and the president...I don't think I could belong to a congregation with a rabbi who thought Bush was good for America, Israel or anything else.
Otherwise all the excitement I can report is getting my monopod delivered (I got a cheap one,
Trek news today was Nimoy talking photography and Patrick Stewart teaching at Oxford...hmm, he'll be there in April when I will, should I try to sit in on a lecture? And does anyone know where I can get ahold of the audio recording David Tennant did of Much Ado About Nothing for the BBC? *bats eyelashes*