I don’t feel like prefacing this with an explanation. So I’m just going to get right to it:
I prepare myself to pack away my dreams
into the snowglobe of a lost memory.
Our fingers intertwined, like beds
of fallen leaves warming a frosty earth.
The little laughs shared in stone courtyards,
where too many feet have marched
to the sound of war drums —
our laughter replenishes the weary
souls trapped in a moment of history.
The way your eyes gleam when I kneel,
even though I always said I wouldn’t
because it’s too cliche and we should
strive to be something more than that.
But I couldn’t help myself, the dreary
winter rain of England trapping moisture
in my cargo pants as the words slip from my tongue
and the oath slides into place.
The tears we share together that night
when your lips offer affirmations
and our nervous smiles betray our joy
to the voyeurs of the world.
The single joyous moment when you
cross the threshold on the arms of an angel;
I stand there, sweaty palms, my crazy
mother in the corner sobbing over a grin —
we both know she’s lost her marbles
in all the right ways —
and words are exchanged under an arch
of artificial flowers — because you’re
allergic to the real deal and I
made the day just for you so you’d
The first moment when your worried face
shows me the right colors/lines/truths
in the third plastic stick you’ve tried.
I hardly contain my excitement, like a
child getting the right toy at Christmas,
but always and forever, every day and thereafter,
and then I’m running across the parking lot,
screaming at anyone who will listen,
even if their faces betray my absurdity.
I sweep you up into my arms
with a thousand kisses and thank yous.
We were happy that day.
The birth, the growth, and the sudden
realization that there are so many
things nobody ever told us about
anything we should have learned
about when we were younger.
There are fights and bitter remarks,
pain and tears and too much food
in places it’s not supposed to end up…
But at night we read little stories —
I do all the voices, and you try not
to laugh at how ridiculous I sound —
and battle the wits of the young
in the grand game of sleep politics.
We soldier through, because the little troopers
with unusual names we’ve concucted
in the imagination of love
need us as much as we need them.
We remind ourselves that we can handle it.
Our mothers remind us that they’ll
gladly donate their services.
The little hand of a raggedy boy
squeezing the life out of too
many imaginary demons in the woods out back.
Somewhere his sister plays with her dolls,
or maybe she’s squeezing imaginary demons too,
perhaps in solidarity or because she’s
too much like her monther when she was young.
He’s a right pain in the ass —
so much like his father (or mother, or both) —
and she’s a royal princess
who isn’t sure she wants to be a princess at all.
But we make do, because there’s something
about this journey that reminds us
we’ve still got a long way to go
before we reach whatever great epiphany
awaits the end…
The demon-smashing boy brings his own
demon-smashers to the party, and before long
the demon-smashers are followed by more.
Whatever we think about the choices
the original demon-smashers made,
we’re too happy to have more demon-smashers
in our little cottage in the country to care
— or little house in the city,
depending on how our dreams turned out.
So our living room is filled with toys
and our guest bedrooms turn out to be
perfect havens for the new demon-smashers
to rest off their demon-furies.
We read them bedtime stories, too,
and tell their parents that we’d
happily donate our services.
The former-demon-smashers smile at us,
because they remember when they too
were fodder for the services of the elderly.
The first time you really realized
that we have grown far too old,
but that we’re still just as happy
as we ever were, even with the wrinkles
and dwindling health.
We spend our days in the living room,
reading books, watching TV we don’t understand,
remarking on how when we were younger
we never got into all that whatsamacallits
and some such whatever majigs.
The former-demon-smashers roll their eyes
when they’re privvy to the conversation,
but sooner or latter, they’ll get it too.
Somewhere in all of this, you’ll own
that little bookshop I told you about
when I made up that ridiculous story.
Tinkers and Pages Magical Emporium of Tinker Toys and Books:
you’ll call it that because I came up
with the name in a fit of imagination,
and you can’t help yourself, after all.
We’ll throw our life savings into it
because it’s what we want to do with
the rest of our long, beautiful lives.
We’ll be giants in our own little world,
so sure that the trees beneath our feet
won’t prick us into submission.
All these thoughts, like sunbursts of color
spreading outward into a fan of possibilities,
slip down from the tip of a wand
into my own little pensieve,
the wizard love song that was always ours
dwindling away in the background
where the shadows encroach —
shadows of what used to be,
of the demon-smashers and their adorable grins…
In the snowglobe, I see the futures
we might have had lying in wait,
perhaps to be drawn out again,
or deferred for another day.
But whatever days are lost in the memory of you,
I’ll hold the snowglobe in my pocket,
a bookmark for one moment of wonder.