Our flowers are all blooming around here--making me love summer all over again for its ability to generate life, light, and heat. Things all ripening, coming to fruition...the outdoors driving me to distraction, luring me away from this desk with a lyrical siren's song. Summer is striking...I am powerless to pull away from that. So, if I am not working as much as I should be, forgive me--I'm in love with the honeysuckle vines threading through our wood fence...the tree leaves resounding like ocean waves with the faintest hint of a breeze...and the rhododendrons sultry purple petals who speak volumes just by opening up--so much more than I can ever dream of.
This past weekend, M. and I attended the wedding of good friends of ours. The bride was gorgeous, as they are often known to be--her satin dress like the icing on the wedding cake itself. Their eyes on one another were luminous--this always sets me off into pure sappiness. But, M. has adjusted to this over the years, running his finger along the inside of my palm when I grip his hand--rapt over the vows, the bride crying as she dances with her dad, and the way the groom lights up when someone calls her his wife. This is my concession to silly "girlishness"--otherwise, I'll likely be arguing about politics, gender, and philosophy. Just let me dab my eyes when the bride and groom share their first dance...I'll be right back to calling you a patriarchal, male-chauvinist pig in just one second.
We saw old friends we hadn't seen in quite a while--met some new ones. After a steady rain, the weather broke open to reveal a velvet night sky, half-moon outshining the flickering stars. I drank white wine and listened to the stories of everyone's life. This is what relationships are, really...the best ones--hearing out the memories, dreams, and fears of the people around us. Then, if we're especially lucky--getting a chance to share our own. Babies are coming, marriages are beginning, adventures are underway...we're all trying to live on our own terms, making things up as we go along, revising whole chapters of our narratives.
I stood there in the cool grass and just drank it all in. I wasn't thinking about my students, my book, my articles, my editing work still to be done...I wasn't thinking about paying the mortgage, taking the kids to the dentist, or faculty meetings. I was breathing everyone in...breathing in the budding summer night...M. reached for my hand at random, unexpected moments--and, I have to say, more than once or twice his eyes lit up when I walked towards him...my heart skipped a beat when he said, "This is my wife..." A decade in, should this really still be happening? Then I think of Neruda and his love sonnets for his wife, Matilde--Sonnet XVII speaking to me about my own life...what has drawn through me these past ten years, and what always, inexplicably, blossoms from my heart at each and every wedding...
by Pablo Neruda
I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way.
than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.