Dominique Larntz * September 2, 2012


A New Habit

I think I did it first:
he asked me if I liked the shelf he finished

And in my mind I said,
are you kidding, it’s fantastic!

In my heart, I sang of the way a shelf
we carve into our lives to set a book upon
was made from a tree that reached as deeply into the dirt
as its branches stretched toward the sun.

He asked me again, a little perturbed this time.

“Do you like the new shelf?”

I shook myself and said aloud, “Yes, yes. I love it.”

I noticed this new habit we have—
assuming we have heard the other respond.

When we were younger and first in love,
we spoke together fast and secretly—so fast
that we would finish the others’ sentence
before listening and laughing in the joy of it.

Now our love life is ecstatic with age
and I can report back in time
that there is nothing more beautiful
than love well lived.

The love well lived requires both sides
to mature, both sides sometimes to be wrong,
a song of sacrifice lived behind the curtain
of deep desires to do something different than
is being done—requires abandoning the place of want
and its unending possibilities—those are ceded
with wonder and awe for the roots and depth
where we have best blossomed instead,
like two bookends slid securely into place
holding up stories on a shelf that will last for a while.

For twenty years, we have said and not said
so many wonderful things to each other; it seems
like sunshine to be around him.

Our relationship sustains this living landscape
and our daily lives are finally slow enough to feel it.

The other day, I asked him a question—
I can’t even remember what it was—
and he didn’t answer,
so I answered yes for him.

When you ask your next question,
only to wait and wait for its answer,
perhaps your spouse or child
or aging parent or God
is so ecstatic with you
they have this sense
you have already heard.