Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Once Upon a Time...

I had a different post planned. But then yesterday, when I wanted to publish said post, I was sitting in Onyx Coffee Lab in Fayetteville with my Dad, on our way to rescue my little car from Wilson Park where I had abandoned him in the snow (sorry, Bobby!), and Seth Haines was there writing a blog post that turned out to be a love letter of sorts to Amber. And Amber was elsewhere, writing one to him. And it's a thing that they do sometimes, and there's a prompt, and an invitation to join in. And it altogether fit quite nicely with my "domesticated" posts, and with my tendency to leave notes for Adam in odd places and at random intervals.


So, to my Adam:

Once upon a time... there was poetry. First it was old words, penned to God, neatly bound and tentatively given just two weeks after we met. A Christmas gift, a week early, you said, and one page was marked with the fine black ribbon that was sewn into the binding.

"When thou art absent all sorrows are here,
when thou art present all blessings are mine."
[from The Valley of Vision]

That spoke to me of two persons, and I wrote words of my own, quietly keeping them in the notebook I always carry. Hope expressed in journal entries, unsent letters, and sometimes lines arranged in meter.

"...Inexplicably, two hands had reached into my darkness to pull me out. Two sets of arms embraced me. And two mouths, one mortal, one Divine, declared, I love you, and you are mine."

Winter turned to Spring, and we said goodnight over the phone every evening for an hour - and you kept all of the notes I gave you, a cascade of paper squares folded into hearts and overflowing out of the glovebox of your truck every time you opened it. And there was Emerson, in the tome you left for me as you left town for a few weeks on Army business.

"Give all to love;
Obey thy heart;
Friends, kindred, days,
Estate, good-fame,
Plans, credit and the Muse -
Nothing refuse."
[Ralph Waldo Emerson]

Summer came, and we went - me to New York, you to Maryland - and your letters and my notes had to be mailed instead of left tucked into car windows and taped to doors. In Central Park, a poem set to music played, though I didn't remember it until later as I answered your question with a breathless yes.

"I'm at the top of the world, looking down on Creation,
and the only explanation I can find
is the love that I've found ever since you've been around -
your love put me at the top of the world."
[from On Top of the World by The Carpenters]

I wrote another poem in my notebook, one that I read to you a few months later - a vow to walk by your side, hand in hand, heart in heart, on the same path 'til we reached the River where all paths end.

Then the poetry slowed. It is one thing to speak with high words of joining two lives - it is another, more difficult, task to actually do it. The right words may not always come, but it is no less beautiful, even when the tone of the notes shifts toward thanks for platonic tasks, and expressions of gratitude for patience and grace through moments (and days - and weeks) of blindness and selfishness.

"Of all the numerous ills that hurt our peace -
That press the soul, or wring the mind with anguish,
Beyond comparison the worst are those
That to our folly, or our guilt we owe..."
[Robert Burns]

Three Valentine's Days ago, we said I love you for the first time. And through time and distance, words whispered and shouted, climbing up and falling back, going to IHOP at midnight to commemorate a first date and staying up 'til midnight with a refractory baby who had no intention of sleeping, I hold those words still true. And I seek a return to that original poetry - the kind that recognizes that while two are better than one, a threefold cord is not quickly broken, and we two don't have a hope of ever becoming one unless we add a necessary third to complete our type of Trinity. I seek a return to the old Word, begotten before Time and spoken when Time began. And I seek a return to the beginning of the first story, the roots that blossomed into the Song of Solomon, the shadow cast by the original wonder of Christ and His Church.

"Then the man said, This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh... Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they two shall become one flesh."
[Genesis 2:23a-24]

After all, once upon a time is not a story in itself without the pages that  follow. We've started a new chapter now, and though I don't know what else it will hold, I resolve that in the lines I'm given to write there will be more gratitude expressed and fewer apologies needed, and whether in written word or the grace of action, there will be poetry.

1 comment:

Brandee Shafer said...

Love it! That makes three of us, writing about bones :)

My man and I used to write notes to one another, too, and we need to start again. Because it sho nuff is happy-making and sexy.