Sunday, December 28, 2008


I woke up this morning thinking, for some unfathomable reason, about a poem I had written many years ago called "A Proposal of Marriage." For half an hour or more I lay content in my bed, alone and undisturbed, remembering not just the words but especially the emotions that produced the words and the poem.

The way I remember it, on a morning much like this I woke with my wife still curled against me, her head on my shoulder, an arm and leg reaching over my body. I marvelled at the way we fit together, not only physically but emotionally, spiritually. We each had strengths to offset the other's weaknesses: where she was hot-headed, I was cool and rational; where I was withdrawn, she was outgoing. Together we became a special entity as well as remaining the two.

We had been married well over a year, and I realized that I had never formally proposed to her. I'd asked if she wanted to marry me (in that warm time between sex and sleep) but she'd said no. After the third such (informal) request I let the question lie, but when she reopened the matter I leaped at the chance. No hesitation; no fancy words and flowers and rings and other such things: we went and got it done.
That morning, watching her sleep in the crook of my arm, I knew I had to make some sort of an effort - if not for her, certainly for me. I carefully extricated myself from her sleeping embrace and wrote an outline for a poem. I knew what I wanted: two opposing images brought to one conclusion. As usual it took a while for all the elements to fall together but they finally did.

I presented it to her on Valentine's Day. (The next option would have been her birthday, or failing that our wedding anniversary.) It was later published in a Toronto magazine and collected in my book Lunatic Hands.

Here is the poem I should have written before we married, did write after we were married, and still connects me to her and times and places.


Under my feet
streets and sidewalks crack
hard sunbaked clay
crumbles dry to dust

Wherever you touch
grasses flourish
myriads of wildflowers
leap toward the sun

Would you
walk in my footsteps?

1 comment:

annaken said...

I like how you describe your dear wife and the intensity of your feelings for her. I also liked the pictures you put on the blog, particularly the flower picture and the words you wrote about her.

It seems to me that she brought a great deal of sunshine into your life and that you were blessed to have known her all those years you were married.

You were, indeed, a fortunate man.

My Dad was fortunate too, he was married to my mother well over 50 years. They met as teenagers in a youth group at church and married at age 25. Both were the same age.

It is good to see a man express his love for his wife.

If you get a chance, borrow that D.V.D. I mentioned in my blog about the Indian couple. I think it may resonate in your heart.