Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Poem by Liam Rector from The Writer's Almanac

First Marriage
by Liam Rector

I made it cross country

In a little under three days. 

The engine blew out 

About a hundred miles north

Of San Francisco, where I'd

Hoped to start living again

With a woman I'd abandoned

Only a few months before. 

The reasons I'd left her were

Wincingly obvious

Soon as I got back

To her, and it didn't take long

Before I again left her.

In a few weeks I'd meet 

The woman who became

My first wife, the one

With whom I spent 

Almost the entirety

Of my twenties. It took

About twenty years 

Getting over her, after

We divorced at thirty.

Broke then, I took

A bus cross-country

And was back in the East

By Christmas, thinking it

Would take three years maybe

To put this one behind me.

But getting over her

Happened as we were

Both in our third marriages,

Both then with children,

Heading for our fifties.

She came cross-country

To tend to me when I had

Cancer, with a 20% chance

Of recovery. The recovery

From all she had been to me,

Me abiding with her as long

As I did, took place finally

When we, her sitting on my bed

And me lying in it, held hands

And watched ourselves watching

TV, something we'd never quite 

Been able to do comfortably

All those years ago. So many

Things turn this way over time,

So much tenderness and memory,

Problems not to be solved

But lived, and I resolved

Right then to start living

Only in this kind of time.

Cancer gave this to me: being

Able to sit, comfortably, to get

Over her finally, and to 

Get on with the fight to live while

Staying ready to die daily.

"First Marriage" by Liam Rector, from The Executive Director of The Fallen World. © The University of Chicago Press, 2006.

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