We have danced together under strange stars, you and I.
Our love was born in the cold and snow
And on the first date, our booted feet slipped
On the ice because we forgot our skates.
Next to the roaring fire I was dazzled by you,
My cheeks flushed from the heat and conversation.
I asked you to marry me, joking (mostly).
When you proposed in truth we were high up,
Overlooking a sunset beach.
Wine in one hand, your other hand in mine,
You got a strange expression on your face
And I misunderstood and asked are you angry at me?
We were both so happy that we cried.
We set a date in Italy, tossed pennies
In the Tivoli Fountain for good luck.
That night at dinner — Indian — I choked
On a seed and threw up at the table. You laughed
Said let’s get married, then we fled the country.
You cried at our wedding, too, but I couldn’t
Stop smiling. When I walked down the aisle,
I had never been so happy, and you cried.
The tables had the names of countries where we’d been,
Our guests came from at least four continents.
We danced that night under their eyes and
I thought that I could never love you more.
Now I love you more. (The heart is infinite as the universe,
Expanding in dimensions that the eye can never comprehend.)
In our wedding photos we’re so young — if we’re lucky
We’ll be married eighty years.
We honeymooned in Dublin, Venice
Everything we owned in two large suitcases
And one small. I thought the metaphor so beautiful,
Always going forward, never back.
Your first home together is symbolic, everybody says.
Ours was a furnished rental in Jerusalem, a fourth-floor walk-up
With a view of the Old City and two sinks.
We learned to cook and shop and do our laundry.
Also to care for one another, like the time
I got salmonella from street meat in Cairo
And you almost had to take me to the hospital.
Egypt, too, we visited. A one-hour flight from Israel,
And your idea. You said we should go now before
The regime falls — I rolled my eyes, but you were right.
From horseback my photos were all crooked
And the Great Pyramid rose up from the desert, ancient and strong,
Standing the test of time.
New York was a superlative — biggest, fastest, most expensive.
It became our city overnight.
From Bleecker Street we’d walk for miles
In every direction, finding hidden gems and secret places,
Learning the rat’s-eye view.
We’ve lived here longer than anywhere, it’s where we ripened
Into adulthood and ourselves. We could stay here forever and never do
Even half of what the city has to offer.
And after all, isn’t that what drew us here?
We were explorers, scared of being battened down,
Always looking to the next horizon.
New York could be our next adventure, and the one
In the end — and it is the end — Manhattan was
A favorite chapter of my very favorite book.
But my darling,
Oh my love, I hope you know
You are the ink.
Remember when we traveled Southeast Asia?
I had a one-way ticket and a half-formed plan and you.
We climbed the temples in Angkor at dawn, hiked
The muddy mountain passes as the monsoon raged, knelt
To children’s chanting on the sticky air.
You rode an elephant and I held a tiger.
Every breath and bite was an adventure, fragrant with potential.
Remember waking every day,
Not knowing where we’d go to sleep that night?
I do. I’ve not forgotten
How it felt — how wondrously alive and free —
To heft our treasures on our backs, embarking
On the great unknown.