Wednesday, February 14, 2018

measure



At the Cairo Hospital...looking at my true love.

February is a month when couples measure love by romance:
“He took me to a waterfront restaurant--candles and violins!
He gave me long stemmed roses! and A two-carat diamond ring!
He got down on one knee when he proposed! 
We stayed at home, made love in front of a roaring fire,
and afterward he rubbed my feet.” 
These measures of love are compared and pitted--spurred talons sharpened;
greased feathers glittering, but I don't want to play. 

My true love doesn't like the cost of waterfront restaurants,
especially after a messy incident where I had lobster at market price. I know he'll
never buy me a diamond--not after what we’ve seen.
He prefers rosebushes over long-stemmed because they grow; 
his idea of a roaring fire is at the end of a good cigar.
But he puts the seat down, replaces light bulbs,
and he has strong arms. 

These arms once supported my weight as I
tried to act normal, walking
up a flight of stairs in Cairo—uneven stone steps,
littered with small candy wrappers and beggars
(too afraid to stretch out their hands,
thinking I may be cursed) who stared at me, with frightened 
expressions that made me think I was going to die.

I couldn’t walk by myself, weak
from blood loss and dehydration. 
It took all the strength I had to steady myself
on my true love’s arm, his other
hand clasped over mine, holding it in place.
We were there to meet a qualified surgeon, who
said he could stop the bleeding. 

My love kept whispering, “a few more steps, just
a few more steps…” though neither one of us
had ever been there. His whispers, nevertheless,
comforted me.  

My measure of romance will always be in this:
He steadies me when I can't walk the bleak
and stony paths in life; he knows my hungry cues
of pain and steps beside me, once again. On steps
like these, too weak and bloodless, nothing left to give, 
He asks for nothing -- here is where I measure
my true love’s heart.