Tuesday, June 18, 2013

a poem for my husband on his forty-third birthday

43 years

Adapted from "Yesterdays", a poem BY ROBERT CREELEY
Ninety-two, ninety-three, I most remember   
As the winter a blizzard shut us in and we are   
Broke from a hard two years as newly wed  
Where the meager provision of being   
Student, employee, father for our first born
Son and now another one on the way, we've
Neither a degree nor cash. Dreams die in   
Fatigue and bank accounts give way as you and your    
Muscle and sweat and hope fall in to make   
A loss. We lived in two bedrooms down the   
Hallway from kind friends in their nice  
Neighborhood. Or that has all really   
Happened and we go to Johnson City where,   
Thanks to Rick Jindra and Steve Conroy,   
You get a job cleaning cars at Dependable   
Auto Sales. It’s all a backwards dream, a slog
To get a life and home before the next
Arrival of another son, your dogged days 
Of honor. A church acquaintance  
Has encouraged us that giving when we   
Don't think we have anything to give keeps the   
Scarcity of our mindset overwhelmed by
The bounty. I love the mentors, at least I   
Think I do, in their wisdom, their attempt   
To find ways for us to find a living from the WIC   
Office. Otherwise the early years seem   
Like a country music ballad. A stunned   
Twenty-something man runs from school to work   
And home up three floors of the apartment house on Frederick Street,
Chasing a toddler with the second-born in hot
Pursuit where otherwise you sat up late writing  
Required lines, planning for your next degree  
And child, a daughter. We were waiting to get our   
First salary and listening to the Yankees win the pennant
On the radio. You worked, you dreamed, you wrote the   
Fifty-two pages of your thesis, the new baby  
Arriving near the end. I slept on the couch and  
healed and nursed and cried while you stayed up
Thirty-six hours straight, determined. Then that   
Summer there is the day of the great Teaching Job   
Offer, we move to Conklin -- Richard T. Stank
Middle School, beloved George Schuster  
Down the hall. You read “Goodnight   
Moon” to your children and Teddy Roosevelt
To your students, and Rick Patino for the team.   
Then it’s winter again. My water breaks   
And we head back to Lourde's Hospital   
And we welcome another daughter, and   
Sometime just about then you must have almost   
Seen yourself as others see or saw you,   
people like Dr. Jagger and Scott Gravelding, but could not quite   
Accept either their affirmation
Or their equally anointed naming. Uncertain,   
Afraid, you kept at it. A few years later
Crisis and pain and forgiveness fall in to make   
A calling. You lived into yourself, a man named.   
You are still the father, student, teacher, much the same,
but now also mentor, pastor, friend.
Now you are happier, I think, and older.
Those of us lucky enough to know you say
That we have won the Brian Murphy lottery.

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