icy patch

Remember kissing madly in the kitchen in the first month of our love? Even then, I’m sure both of us would  have said there would be hard times.

We knew about the invisible icy patch on the sidewalk, the cancerous mole masquerading as a freckle, the burning hot handle grabbed unmindfully.

Delirious with love but clear eyed, we vowed to stay awake, to throw narratives out the window.

 

The worst thing about an icy patch, it turns out, is not the painful bruise it leaves but the surprise of falling. And then the way you walk too gingerly, fearing a repetition.

 

The ground was solid. Our footing was sure.

To trip and feel it all go out from under –

Every kiss, the meals shared, the curled up Saturday nights,

everything that had seemed so certain –

has taken some breath out of me.

I wake up  now and know how tenuous it all is. Your eyes. My hands.

****

Sitting in the hospice room of a dear friend, listening as she ruminated about late night television,

the girl who had helped her up at 3 AM,

the refreshing coldness from her open window.

Her blue, artist eyes wandered and then focused again, seeing every pattern.

She spoke about her husband of decades and his failing  memory, though she was loathe to say “Alzheimer’s” into the sterile nursing home room.

As if on queue, he arrived. Standing in his winter parka, he filled the small room with his rugged, big frame; even at his age, he looked like the hiker he’d long been.

I could not help but to watch and feed my own heart when he sat on the bed and kissed her.

“I love you” he said; “I love you,” she said.

Then they slowly unwound what had occurred since they’d seen each other last – comparing notes of what they’d each eaten, with whom they’d each spoken.

Over the years, they must have grown tired of that exchange. How many lunches had been described, how many daily tallies shared.

Surely, there had been icy patches.

But what comfort there was in the spare simplicity of that kiss, sweeter and deeper than any exchanged in love’s earliest, sunniest days.

***

You play songs from your rollerskating youth:   “I want to hold you ’til the fear in me subsides.”

Some days I fear you losing your memory, or my body failing. So much to fear.

But more so, I fear not having that kiss made up of a hundred thousand I love you’s and a thousand sliced apples and a hundred dog walks.

I love you, I want to say with wane light in my eyes. Tell me about your day.

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