32nd anniversary, revisited

Intertwined branches of a large tree

Hard Bucking

We’re comfortable, we two, after all this time; this
stubborn, persevering love, sturdy now as the two
old trees we saw so long ago, growing intertwined
at water’s edge, roots and branches woven together
beyond thought of separation.

We scrap, we two, like mangy backyard cats;
backs arched in comic postures, we parade in mincing
inchworm steps around each other, glaring sparks,
hissing and spitting like water on a hot griddle,
subsiding bit by bit into accustomed cooperation.

Broken like horses, we two, to narrow roles
that fit like too-tight saddles from the start,
and only in these many long years of hard bucking
against each other’s solid and weary flanks
have we worn off old restraints.

And if we are, we two, each other’s sometime pain,
harsh sandpaper grating against the other’s hard edges,
taking idle potshots at each other with plastic knives,
we are also each the other’s solace, the deep comfort
of trusted, trusting love in each other’s lives.

Older we are, we two, grown haggard, careworn,
grey around the edges and sagging in the middle,
but still, my love, I reach at night to touch
your shoulder in the dark, and in your sleep
you take my hand and hold it to your heart.

~ S.H., 1997 ~

Hello dear friends,

Nearly 20 years after writing this poem, my Dearly Beloved and I are heading toward our 52nd wedding anniversary in the fall of 2017. Over half a century. Good grief, that’s almost as long as old people written up in newspaper articles are married!

Oh, wait a minute; we are old. I keep forgetting.

Being an old couple has its challenges, but there are also many blessings. Who knew? We are still each other’s solace and comfort, and the years have worn us into a fit for each other’s bumps and hollows and prickly places. We’re Real together. Real, and loving – and loved.

A word of wisdom from the Skin Horse, who knows:

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens when a [person] loves you. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.

Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

[Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit, (New York: Scholastic Inc., 1990)]

the-skin-horse-final

Namaste,
Susannah

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12 Comments

    1. That entire conversation between the Skin Horse and the Rabbit is one of my favourites. So much wisdom condensed into those few passages!

      And thanks, Martha, for your good wishes. We’re actually not quite there yet – September 4 is the big day, but I was taken with this old poem and decided to repost it, even if it is a bit early. ❤

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    1. Thank you so much! I love writing and would do it no matter what, I expect, but I can’t tell you how much it means to me that other people appreciate my writing. Thank you for your lovely comment.

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  1. So nice that you reposted this one. I remember reading it when you first posted it. It spoke to me then and even more so today. Challenges and blessings, all intertwined as we grow old and become real together. Thanks again Sue for your words of wisdom.

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    1. Challenges and blessings says it all, doesn’t it? When we’ve come through the many challenges of an ongoing relationship with our loved one and are growing old with that person, it’s amazing to realize that what we thought was love back in the early days was only a pale imitation of what we now enjoy. I feel very lucky. ❤

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