Monday, March 30, 2020


"Measure" is a poem about my true love, Mario.

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

February is a short month, when
couples choose to measure love:
“He took me to that waterfront 
restaurant with candle-light and violins!
He gave me long stemmed roses! 
 “...a two-carat diamond!"
 He knelt when he proposed... 
We made love in front of a roaring fire...
Measures of love, compared and pitted,
spurred talons sharpened,
greased feathers glittering.
I don't want to play. 

My true love doesn't like waterfront restaurants,
not after a messy incident, when I ordered
Maine lobster at market price. 
He doesn't do diamonds, not after seeing the mines.
He gives me potted, living roses,
and says he's "not gonna fall for that
overpriced crap that'll be dead in a week,"
and he really means it.
His idea of a roaring fire is at the end
of a good cigar.
But, he puts the seat down,
replaces light bulbs,
and has strong arms. 

These arms 
once supported me,
all my dead weight, as I
tried to act normal, plodding
up stairs in Cairo—uneven stone
steps in front of the hospital—littered
with candy wrappers. Women in black
wool hijabs looked up at me, their eyes 
begging me not to touch them, their hands 
tucked beneath their dresses, not outstretched
too afraid? too wise? did they think I was cursed?
leaning away from my shadow as we passed, and his
arms around me, lifting my weight so my feet would be 
lighter, and I couldn't help seeing the women, with big eyes
filled with terror and something else. They made made me believe
I was dying.

Weak from blood loss, no fluid
would stay, no water in my eyes
or my body. It took everything I
had, whatever strength in me to 
hold on to my true love, whose
arms were around me, supporting
me, a primal scent of perspiration,
his one hand clasped over mine, 
holding me up as I stepped up so
many stone steps between us and
the surgeon. We had to stop twice
and when I cried, the women hid
their faces. We had to (could we?) 
stop the bleeding, 
any way.

He kept whispering: “A few more steps, just
a few more steps…” And it was one up, and
two up. Neither one of us had ever been to
that particular hospital or country before, 
but he whispered, "Just a few more steps,"
I pleaded to stop and lie down. He shook
his head and didn't feel sorry for me. And
the hospital was there, at the end of the steps,
just like he said it would be.

My measure of romance will always be this.
The strength of his arms and his whispers.
When the self is a weak, bleeding, staggering
thing, and the world is a bleak place with
long, stony paths, all uneven, he steadies me.
Even more, he believes I can do it and tells me,
and I get there with him, one step at a time.
He knows my pain and walks beside me

On steps like these,
too weak and bloodless 
to stop crying, having nothing 
left to give, he asks me for nothing
and expects nothing. He never leaves.
This is the measure of my true love’s heart.