Thursday, March 19, 2009

On Anniversaries: Getting to the Fine Day of Walter McDonald's Poem

My recent writing about "swooning" ("Weak-in-the-Knees-at-Walgreens") triggered a whole series of responses from you. Included in these, were my own family's musings about the way many members made their way toward marriage. Our Borgmann-Family Blog was lit up with tales loosely given the title, "Melissa's Knees: Our Love Stories" by my Aunt Marian. It was great fun to read these narratives, and to glean other such moments of "swooning" and first encounters. It took me personally into the larger space of our individual and collective journeys toward commitment, and how messy and fun and hard and exciting that all is. Today's Writer's Almanac poem speaks to these journeys, from one poet's sweet, love-heartache-reflection perspective.


Anniversary: One Fine Day
by Walter McDonald

Who would sit through a plot as preposterous as ours,
married after years apart? Chance meetings may work
early in stories, but at operas, darling, in Texas?
A bachelor pilot, I fled Laredo for the weekend,
stopping at the opera from boredom, music I least expected.
Of all the zoos and honky-tonks south of Dallas,
who would believe I would find you there on the stairs,

Madame Butterfly about to start? When you moved
four years before, I lost all hope of dying happy,
dogfighting my way through pilot training, reckless,
in terror only when I saw the man beside you.
I had pictured him rich and splendid in my mind
a thousand times, thinking you married with babies
somewhere in Tahiti, Spain, the south of France.

When I saw the lucky devil I hated—only your date,
but I didn't know—he stopped gloating, watching you wave,
turned old and bitter like the crone in Shangri La.
Destiny happens only in plays and cheap movies—
but here, here on my desk is your photo, decades later,
and I hear sounds from another room of our house,
and when I rise amazed and follow, you are there.

"Anniversary: One Fine Day" by Walt McDonald, from Blessings the Body Gave. © Ohio State University Press, 1998. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

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