Frost rimes the trees like the Queen Anne’s Lace that grew alongside the holler roads in June,
on the hazy afternoons when we had no place to be, no ends in sight, on the winding one-lane, old paved roads where we took flight.
Bike pedals slapping shin bones when we hit the hills just right,
free descent, lungs too strained for our squeals of delight,
we have always been wild and strange
creatures who wandered the Appalachian hills but sought a broader horizon.
We spoke for 62 minutes today.
We spoke while I cruised through a McDonald’s Drive-thru.
We spoke as I checked the tire pressure on my car
And complained about the sensor light coming on again.
We spoke as I ate, long pauses as I chewed.
We spoke as I perused the news.
In 62 minutes today we had to condense 24 hours of our marriage.
It was not enough.
To be intimate.
To describe our day.
To explain what needs to be done.
To discuss our child.
To exalt over her achievements.
It can never be enough.
In 62 minutes every day for the past 300 days.
How do we stay in touch?
And thousands of texts that simply say
I love you
Wait for me.
When the gray mornings of a humid, drizzly day cause my hair to frizz and fray.
When my tears leech through my mascara darkened eyelashes in black rivulets down my cheeks.
Before I wash the night’s sleep from my face .
Standing under the harsh truthfulness of white fluorescent lights.
When the stress of the day bows his shoulders down like Atlas.
When the night is dark and the moon has shut its eye to steal the little light it gives.
When I dressed all in white and took his hands for life.
When he wiped the sweat from my brow with the edge of my ugly hospital gown.
When my nose is red and I can’t stop coughing and fever blurs my eyes.
When his voice cuts in and out from the strain of transmitting from thousands of miles away.
When he hasn’t even seen my face for several weeks on end.
My love tells me I am beautiful even when I don’t deserve it.
My love tells me I am beautiful and I am starting to believe him.
Because when he tells me I am beautiful it isn’t what he’s seeing, my love tells me I am beautiful because of what he’s feeling.
How could we have known this love would be a source of both pain and ecstasy when you caught my eye under the dingy white tarp of that festival tent and the electricity of a coming storm danced under our skin?
That separation was inevitable and the string of fate would span an ocean, stretched as thin as a spider’s webbing, cutting into the flesh of our hearts where it knotted all those days ago when I looked back at you and knew life would never be the same?
How could I have known I would be so lucky as to possess a love that would cause such longing in the dark expanse of lonely nights?
How could I have known the blessing of the pain of missing you far outweighs the numbness of never having known you?
How could I have known that a deployment would make me love you even more than I ever dreamed a soul could love, deeper than the unknown depths of the ocean floor, longer than the infinity of this universe?
Slats of sunlight dapple
the edges of my memories
twirling in the kitchen
laying sideways in our bed
blinding our view of the television
where we curled up each evening
the warming Spring days meant open
strolls across the railroad tracks
during lengthening evening twilight
holding hands, our breaths
as we wait for separation
a year long pacing back and forth
slowly becoming numb
with every creeping day.
In all the world I do not believe a woman could love you as I do.
She couldn’t see all the amazing things that I see even if she tried to.
But if anyone else were to love you
Here are the things I’d hope she knew.
The way your life shines through your eyes, how I knew you were kind.
The uniqueness of the clever workings of your mind
When we debate back and forth when our views don’t align
And the way you could let me be myself with you and unwind.
The strength of your heart as you carry the weight of the worries of the ones you love
The constant assurance you give us as you perform any task we think of
And the way you ask for nothing in return from us or from above
Taking on cares that would break the wills of some.
The timbre of your laughter when you are genuinely happy
And how it carries on the wind to mingle with the spirits freely
How it captures everyone in its swath making somebodies of perceived nobodies
It’s vibrations resonating under your skin with subtle sensuality.
And the gentle pressure of your hands as they traced the lines of my body
Delving past the barriers I had erected so carefully
Of my emotions, my ability to relate, not just my physicality
You unlocked so much more when you moved that night to kiss me.
I hope she’d know how deeply you deserve to be loved by anyone
That if she cannot commit to a lifetime of holding you in the sun
She does not deserve you, she has no right to leave you undone
Because of all the men in the world you most deserve to be truly loved.
I see eternity within your eyes
When you stare back into mine
Through my soul to the end of time
To where the gods are said to shine
When prayers are offered to their shrines
And you and I don’t need to find
Absolution, we have discovered in kind
Our salvation through each other’s minds
Delicate balances as we attempt to align
distance and affection, marriage defined
Anew for this moment of mankind’s design
Our commitments to country but disinclined
To prioritize wars of rich men’s asinine
Beliefs (see: portfolios) but beyond serpentine
Leaders we gather our courage and combined
We are unstoppable, indivisible, winding vines
On the scale of an infidimensional timeline.
I love you.