You're Still Best Part of the Day
Very often, love, I ponder why you waited
so long to marry. There must have been scores of women drawn to blue
eyes and keen wit. There must have been one Mrs. Snodgrass-to-be who
came close to snatching the wily bird. Whatever your reason for
turning her down, I am flattered that, when you finally chose a nest
mate, you liked the color of my feathers.
Although living as mated pair puts
constraints on us both, it's nice to know that, at the end of a work
day, with a whole sky luring you to test your wings, you fly home to
Love, for all the mush and drivel that has been written about it,
remains as much a mystery as it did to generations of couples who
lived in caves or tents, made babies, carried out the trash, and slept
in the crooks of each other's arms. Whatever life brought, human mates
have managed to return to the pattern and to find renewal in the woman
who wore the white dress and veil, the man who proffered the ring,
stuttered a bit to the direct question, then replied in a clear, manly
voice, "I do."
Every time I contrast myself to the women
who came before-the wives who tanned the hides, bandaged the wounds,
and picked berries to stir into the evening's stew, I wonder if my
modern quanderies are in any way comparable. In other words, if I had
to compete with the cave women, Joan of Arcs, Rosie the riveters,
Sacajaweas, or empresses of China, would I make the grade?
Nowadays, there are no bears to skin and
few stew recipes that call for berries. Only the wounds remain, the
everyday hurts inflicted by mechanized demands, like the traffic that
creeps, the earthly jangle that interrupts our inner quiet. For more
than a third of each sunspan, you are far away, battling the business
jungle. On my own field of honor, I too work against time to cram
eight hours' worth of work into eight hours' worth of minutes. And so
we return to the nest, wearied, dissatisfied, disillusioned, but
accepting how it was meant to be-a day's work done, a lifetime to
Taking an evening's rest with you,
sharing what has or hasn't occurred during the day, making amends, and
planning for a better tomorrow-these are the moments that seem to
compose a marriage. But as Liza Minnelli's song demands,
Is that all there is?
No, indeed no. There are the myriad
details that pile up like shells on the beach and needles under the
fir. There are pizzas shared in one-for-you-one-for-me triangles,
rectangular piles of mail sorted, read, and answered, squares of lawn
seeded and fed and cut and raked, circles of plates and cups washed
and dried and stacked, and zigzag paths worn from stove to fridge to
washer-dryer. And sprinkled among like random shots of luminescent
gold are the Christmases and birthdays, Fourth of Julys and momentary
flights of fancy that have interrupted the everydayness with brief
kisses, an exchange of gifts, a silly witticism.
Each time I weigh my wifely sackful of
ins and outs, good times and not so good, I come up with an identical
sum: On Valentine's day or any day, my sweetness, you're still the
best part of the day.
"Catawba Valley Neighbors"
February 14, 1993