Transfixed within the scrolled frame of marriage—
Glossy, still as a Flemish nature mort—
You are the basket’s woven lines,
I the overripe purpling grapes. What is marriage
without realism, plain detail, the more
examined the more discretely outlined?
Gleam seizes shadow, motionless. Marriage
of canvas, oil and turpentine. One more
scrape of the palette’s umber and aniline’s
blue thin menace. I animated marriage
cartoons as a child, bright crayon, not a mor-
bid thought in view. Polka dot curtains lined
window frames with daisies: picture marriage
as bungalow tilting, blue skies evermore,
uplifted arms diaper-pinning the line.
Watercolors risk salt: over marriage
tides flow. Initials carved in sycamore
erode the jackknife wriggle of their lines.
A playhouse, yet a serious marriage.
Undeclared we knew the stakes, how much more
asked of us. Anniversaries fall in line—
patina thickens—varnish conceals—marriages
shiver apart—ours strains its well-mixed mor-
tar—surfaces enhanced by spider line.
Who sees us defines us by this marriage.
Hand in hand, smile / click. To viewers, a maud-
lin sentiment. To ourselves, still, life line.
--from Rock Vein Sky, Midmarch Arts Press,
first published in The National Poetry Review.