Tuesday, June 10, 2008

"First Marriage" by Liam Rector, Courtesy of The Writer's Almanac

First Marriage
by Liam Rector

I made it cross country
In a little under three days.
The engine blew out

About a hundred miles north
Of San Francisco, where I'd
Hoped to start living again

With a woman I'd abandoned
Only a few months before.
The reasons I'd left her were

Wincingly obvious
Soon as I got back
To her, and it didn't take long

Before I again left her.
In a few weeks I'd meet
The woman who became

My first wife, the one
With whom I spent
Almost the entirety

Of my twenties. It took
About twenty years
Getting over her, after

We divorced at thirty.
Broke then, I took
A bus cross-country

And was back in the East
By Christmas, thinking it
Would take three years maybe

To put this one behind me.
But getting over her
Happened as we were

Both in our third marriages,
Both then with children,
Heading for our fifties.

She came cross-country
To tend to me when I had
Cancer, with a 20% chance

Of recovery. The recovery
From all she had been to me,
Me abiding with her as long

As I did, took place finally
When we, her sitting on my bed
And me lying in it, held hands

And watched ourselves watching
TV, something we'd never quite
Been able to do comfortably

All those years ago. So many
Things turn this way over time,
So much tenderness and memory,

Problems not to be solved
But lived, and I resolved
Right then to start living

Only in this kind of time.
Cancer gave this to me: being
Able to sit, comfortably, to get

Over her finally, and to
Get on with the fight to live while
Staying ready to die daily.

"First Marriage" by Liam Rector, from The Executive Director of The Fallen World. © The University of Chicago Press, 2006. (buy now.)


I notice...

Traveling across country. An engine blowing out. Things wincingly obvious. Cancer. Divorcing and remarrying. Taking years to "get over." Occurrences in the speaker's twenties. Cancer in their fifties. 20% chance of recovering.
The lines, "
Problems not to be solved/But lived" and " Cancer gave this to me: being/Able to sit, comfortably, to get/
Over her finally, and to/Get on with the fight to live while/Staying ready to die daily."


I wonder...

How those cross-country trips inspired or informed partnership?

How many times do we need to travel across continents to learn about ourselves and our hearts?

When engines blow, who repairs them?

Where does cancer come from?

Can a car have cancer? How about a heart?

What happens if we can't fix things?

What does dying teach us?

Can we learn these lessons in any simpler way?



Happy contemplating! Happy road trips!

Melissa




1 comment:

MJ said...

Interesting to read. He committed suicide last fall, and now I wonder if the cancer had recurred. He was 58 I think. MJ