My Beloved went on his annual fishing trip a couple weekends ago, up in the Oswego, New York area. I’m not sure what he’s actually fishing for, but every year I send him off with a reasonably sized cooler and instruct him to return only when it’s full. This year, he snagged a 3-pound zucchini. I’ll take what I can get.
When we began our romance so many years ago, it was in the moonlight surrounding his little trailer in Central New York. It was 30 years old already when he purchased it for $3000 in 2002, and I marveled at how someone could live in something purchased for so little money. It was cozy in the winter, when the tiny closet furnace was working, and equally cozy in the summer, even with the drapes drawn tight. The kitchen included a washer and dryer, and I took full advantage on my weekend retreats there, doing his and the Twins laundry as well as my own. I spent much of my time there alone, grabbing a few minutes together at night before we both fell asleep, and the occasional vacation day or two.
My recollections are certainly filtered through rose-colored goggles. My Beloved won’t even entertain the idea of purchasing our own trailer at some point. For me it’s a lifestyle without the frills I tend to ignore in real life. My dream trailer is always on its own 5 or 10 acres, too. I could not abide trailer park life, unless I was surrounded by the friends and family I love. But he was there for 3 years, summer and winter, power outages and snowstorms, and is quite happy to be living in my place, a real house with a basement and yards between the neighbors and us.
On his most recent trip, he decided to wander by his old residence to see what ghosts remained. Miracle of miracles, his old trailer was still there! Now pushing 50, he described it as having seen better days, especially under his care. Skirting askew, various items filled the gravel-crusted yard in various states of disrepair. I had trouble imagining the place as he described it, clinging as I do to the trailer I remember, and the love that stumbled, solidified within.
Inspiration for a poem comes when I least expect it, but I do try to stay open to suggestion. A few hours later, I wrote a poem about the trailer and my memories, my hopes then and reality now. It is a long one, probably 3 pages or more. It emerged all at once, and after returning to it once or twice, I find little yet I want to cut or restructure. Like any memories of the past, we are not eager to revise unless confronted with the most severe evidence to the contrary.
I try to temper my romantic notions with our real-life situations. Ours is a romance grounded in decades of grief, and we were not starry-eyed youngsters when we decided to slowly creep towards one another, hesitantly. We worked hard to set aside bag after bag of experience and allowed our relationship to become its own thing. This process continues on a daily basis.
Here’s a poem I wrote back in the day:
Summer Night, Mallory
stars brighter than stars ever were
in my life. And farther away…”
It isn’t Paris; it isn’t even Syracuse.
But your porch, spattered with chicken juice
and cold ashes of your last remaining addiction
served as well as any iron balcony,
solitude of the park serviceable as any Left Bank.
The stars seemed to spin around above your head,
illumination of thorns, never so many, never so far.
And in my arms, no crunch of gravel on the main drive,
no blare of blue specials leaking out the next new thing,
no pink flamingos eyeballing us from the next lot,
not even an abandoned kitten to compete with me
for your tentative affection, in my arms I believed
every other evening, every other kiss
had been practice for this one,
that the stars had spent millenniums
in rehearsal for this arrangement.
It had all twirled down to this kiss,
this faraway star burning in my embrace,
imploding even then under the
peppermint white of my breath.