Wednesday, July 30, 2008
It is late and my eyes have been watering all day. I'm not sad or nostalgic or even allergic; it's a strange phenomenon. Perhaps residual sugar, leaking out the corners, wetting my lashes. Just to make sure I remember what my body thinks.
I have been thinking a lot about our one year wedding anniversary and how we let this summer go until it was too late, and that's OK, because for our anniversary, our trip, that crazed cross country camping adventure, has morphed into a grandmother-visit. I know it's strange, but to me, that feels perfectly romantic. To me, we are taking a sort of pilgrimage, a return to the land where love must have been born. Some day I'll be able to tell their story better than these poems about Alzheimer's, but until then, let us continue our own love story, see how the lake water reacts to one year of us, solidly turned over and officially linked.
They say the tradition for one year is to give the gift of paper. I wish I were clever enough to write you a beautiful poem and print it up on thick paper, use a letterpress to imprint those words I want to whisper to you again and again. But, I think, instead, we could burrow into ourselves and do this: for one year of marriage, we could write one another a love letter.
Do you remember those? Now love letters are holding hands beneath blankets while watching films, those trips we take with the dogs to Hay Creek, our limbs twining between the summer sheets, staying up late and having dinner under the stars. But before all that, we used to write to each other on lined notebook paper, we used to fold them into envelopes, we used to give them to each other surreptitiously, shyly, frightened the other might untuck those words and read them immediately, face frowning in disapproval.
But that's not how it went, was it?
It was a letter, after all, that caused your bravery that night, to call me up, ask if you could take me out to dinner, that stiff formality, a true first date.
I would read your letters again and again, read them until the paper became soft in my hands, the pencil lines blurred at the crease. I would carry them in my pocket, sometimes draw them out in front of friends, proud that your handwriting, crabbed and strange as it was, would be recognized, telling them something meaningful is going on. It was a courtship of words.
That's how it was for them, too. My grandparents. A proposal on a piece of paper, a sketch and the words Me and Red. To her, this meant a forever linking. And maybe, when I write these poems about keening and loss, the poems about grief and dementia, I am writing their love story. When she is gone too, their ashes will twine, buried in the current and the sand, keeping company with the stars.