It is all in the details—not the devil, but the poem. Here are three exquisitely detailed poems about marriage, by Gerry Grubbs, Karen Jaquish and Dick Westheimer that grow in power as they remain intimate and true to the details of daily life.
The Moon Was Full
The moon was full this morning
So let me say I thought about you
Shining in our bed
Handmade by hands like yours
Loving and unafraid of each stitch
You bring together lost and desperate
Scraps of fabric because you love
Giving life to torn things
And so I rise in this darkness
Leaving your warm body
To rest from your tasks
As I wander from room to room
Following the full moon
Grateful for the pale blue light that falls
Grateful for the breath that rises
From your moonlit body
2/14/17 for Mary
I prize your hands.
Lightly calloused tips live
above steadfast fingers.
A crippled nail in the middle
reflects that project you were
determined to finish.
Builder of fifty foot towers,
straight-leg tables, sandbox
castles, your touch traces
our child’s laugh on
During the ice storm of ’76,
the sky was lit up like
London during the blitz.
While I watched transformers
flare and sputter,
you crawled along the garage roof,
and with bare hands, shook
the wires free of ice.
Our power stayed on
as other houses fell,
one by one, to darkness.
Tonight your right hand
rests on my thigh carefully
pressing me back
Once when we were new,
Your fingers ran lightly
Along my nyloned calf.
It was the first time
I became beautiful.
Karen I. Jaquish, Milford Ohio.
First published in the Clarion, Sinclair College, Dayton Ohio, 1988.
Kale for Breakfast
Like a sparrow dipped in raspberry juice
a purple finch, high on a not-yet-budding ash
The finch and I alight
between winter and spring.
Snow showers dust blue spruce boughs.
Gingerly, I walk the spring-soaked garden path
I note the broccoli seedlings
weathered last night’s freeze.
The over-wintered curly leafed kale
the red romaine and stalwart collards
show sweeter than the day before
candied by long winter nights
and this frosty spring morning.
I turn from my meandering
to you, wife. In the doorway you beckon.
I come and am greeted with a morning kiss,
a smile, a question:
What does this day bring?
We wander inside and sit across
from one another. I pick up my guitar and sing
of love and morning and that last kiss.
In the key of everything, I sing. Fingers caress the neck,
arms encircle the body of this guitar I love, too.
With it in hand, I sing more of love
and of soil and spring and darkness.
The kitchen warms with morning smells:
your kale steaming on the stove, my apple sliced, coffee ground.
Our day begins to drift apart. First to kale and apples
then tea and coffee, next to here and away.
If one of us must go, I am glad it must be me.
Your smile shines through, most of all – in dungarees
and old cotton shirt, two buttons undone at the collar.
There is dirt on your jean’s knees and under your nails.
And you blossom in its company. You pull weeds and smile.
I pull away, down the drive to good work and the morning.
Dick Westheimer, Batavia
(Dick notes that the description in the first line is taken from Roger Troy Peterson)