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Love Poem to My Husband of Thirty-One Years

Maria Mazziotti Gillan
Maria Mazziotti Gillan
  • I watch you walk up our front path,
  • the entire right side of your body
  • stiff and unbending, your leg
  • dragging on the ground,
  • your arm not moving.
  • Six different times you ask me
  • the date of our daughter’s wedding,
  • seem surprised each time,
  • forget who called, though you can name
  • obscure desert animals,
  • and every detail of events
  • that took place in 3 B.C.
  • You complain now of pain
  • in your muscles, of swimming at the Y
  • where a seventy-six-year-old man tells you
  • you swim too slowly.
  • I imagine a world in which
  • you cannot move.
  • Most days, I force myself to look
  • only into the past;
  • remember you, singing
  • and playing your guitar: “Black,
  • black is the color of my true love’s hair,”
  • you sang, and each time you came into a room
  • how my love for you caught in my throat,
  • how handsome you were, how strong
  • and muscular, how the sun
  • lit your blond hair.
  • Now I pretend not to notice
  • the trouble you have buttoning
  • your shirt, and, yes, I am terrified
  • and, no, I cannot tell you.
  • The future is a murky lake.
  • I am afraid of the monsters
  • who wait just below its surface.
  • Even in our mahogany bed, I am not safe.
  • Each day, I swim toward
  • everything I didn’t want to know.

Maria Mazziotti Gillan is the founder and executive director of the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College in Paterson, New Jersey, and is also a professor of poetry and the director of the creative writing program at Binghamton University, State University of New York. She is the author of 15 books of poetry and edits the Paterson Literary Review. Her collection All that Lies Between (Guernica Editions, 2007) won the American Book Award, and in 2011 she was awarded the Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award from Poets & Writers. “Love Poem to My Husband of Thirty-One Years” is taken from What We Pass On: Collected Poems 1980–2009, published by Guernica Editions in 2010, and is reprinted by permission.

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Maria Mazziotti Gillan
Maria Mazziotti Gillan
  • I watch you walk up our front path,
  • the entire right side of your body
  • stiff and unbending, your leg
  • dragging on the ground,
  • your arm not moving.
  • Six different times you ask me
  • the date of our daughter’s wedding,
  • seem surprised each time,
  • forget who called, though you can name
  • obscure desert animals,
  • and every detail of events
  • that took place in 3 B.C.
  • You complain now of pain
  • in your muscles, of swimming at the Y
  • where a seventy-six-year-old man tells you
  • you swim too slowly.
  • I imagine a world in which
  • you cannot move.
  • Most days, I force myself to look
  • only into the past;
  • remember you, singing
  • and playing your guitar: “Black,
  • black is the color of my true love’s hair,”
  • you sang, and each time you came into a room
  • how my love for you caught in my throat,
  • how handsome you were, how strong
  • and muscular, how the sun
  • lit your blond hair.
  • Now I pretend not to notice
  • the trouble you have buttoning
  • your shirt, and, yes, I am terrified
  • and, no, I cannot tell you.
  • The future is a murky lake.
  • I am afraid of the monsters
  • who wait just below its surface.
  • Even in our mahogany bed, I am not safe.
  • Each day, I swim toward
  • everything I didn’t want to know.

Maria Mazziotti Gillan is the founder and executive director of the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College in Paterson, New Jersey, and is also a professor of poetry and the director of the creative writing program at Binghamton University, State University of New York. She is the author of 15 books of poetry and edits the Paterson Literary Review. Her collection All that Lies Between (Guernica Editions, 2007) won the American Book Award, and in 2011 she was awarded the Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award from Poets & Writers. “Love Poem to My Husband of Thirty-One Years” is taken from What We Pass On: Collected Poems 1980–2009, published by Guernica Editions in 2010, and is reprinted by permission.

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