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January 13, 2011

I Can Spare the Time...

Reflecting over the last couple of days on twenty years of marriage, twenty-five years of relationship to this woman...

I am a man, a boy really, blessed to have met a girl who has become an incredible friend, a worthy adversary, and a mother of unusual love, presence and grace. And, of course and always, a woman of great beauty. That I was 16 and somehow managed not to miss her or irreparably bungle the first steps of our dance is a mercy beyond reckoning.

I received Wendell Berry's wonderful new collection of poetry, Leavings: Poems, from my mother-in-law - signed by the author! - as a Christmas gift. I have been reading it slowly, savoring Berry's words a few stanzas at a time. This morning, coming to the end of the first section of poems, I read "Over the Edge." It is a beautiful reflection on marriage and one that speaks of the beauty of shared years.

Over the Edge

To tell a girl you loved her - my God! -

that was a leap off a cliff, requiring little

sense sweet as it was. And I have loved

many girls, women too, who by various fancies

of mind have seemed loveable. But only

with you have I actually tried it: the long labor,

the selfishness, the self-denial, the children

and grandchildren, the garden rows planted

and gathered, the births and deaths of many years.

We boys, when we were young and romantic

and ignorant, new to mystery and the power,

would wonder late into the night on the cliff's edge:

Was this love real? Was it true? And how

would you know? Well, it was time would tell,

if you were patient and could spare the time,

a long time, a lot of trouble, a lot of joy.

This one begins to look - would you say? - real?

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