Fourteen³ - May 2016

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Sonnets LXXXV-XCVIII -
On You And Me, 03/05/04-30/05/16

Dedication
To love and strength and happiness, my wife:
A twelve year story of one third of life.
All others: if this tale feels not due
Your time, know this: it was not made for you.

LXXXV. There's no great story that we have to tell,
No meeting on a balcony at night;
No sudden fall beneath each other’s spell;
No love at first, for there was no first sight.
But let these verses be our history,
Of all my love for you, and yours for me:
And let it be a record of our years,
Of all our laughter, crying, hopes and fears.
Forgive me when my memory is blurred,
For things I’ve lost or altered over time,
And things I’ve had to twist to fit a rhyme.
But from the first, until the final word,
If I mythologize, there's one thing true,
That my most perfect poem's “I love you”.

2nd May 2016

LXXXVI. We never met: you've always just been there -
A pretty girl I sort-of-knew from school,
Although I think that you were more aware
Of me, a biggish fish in tiny pool.
You started coming to my church, one day,
I liked the things you were and had to say.
I liked the jokes we shared, the time we spent,
And when you were in places where I went.
One night, we talked online the whole night through:
You said you liked a boy. I said it pays
To tell such truths, and life passed in a haze
Until I heard hope realised with, “It's you.”
You'd always just been there, but I could see,
From then I’d never want you not to be.

10th May 2016

LXXXVII. But I had university ahead,
In four short months, again we’d be apart.
So when you went, I followed where you led,
On holy holiday, I chased my heart.
With such impious motives went, but then
My humdrum teenage faith was born again;
And in a crowded tent to my surprise
I found the face of God with faithless eyes.
But you had strayed into a desert place
The flame which lit your life had flickered out.
I knew new certainty as you knew doubt,
I found my feet, you stumbled in the race,
And on the shining path of new love's day,
A shade of darkness fell upon the way.

12th May 2016

LXXXVIII. From time's swift passage love gives no reprieve,
For soon the happy summer days had flown
Until the day I knew I had to leave:
And knowing this I sat and cried, alone.
In hindsight, maybe I should not have gone,
With greater things to build my life upon;
If I had time to have my time again,
Perhaps I'd not have parted from you then.
Two years I stayed in that unhappy place,
Where half-heard lectures, essays poorly scrawled,
And this and that killed time until you called.
Two years ‘til I returned to your embrace,
And promised nevermore to part from you,
A promise sealed by God and with ‘I do’.

15th May 2016

LXXXIX. I don't remember details of that day,
The only thing that matters is the cause:
The words I said to give myself away,
And tangle up my destiny with yours.
For service, photos, hats and cake all passed
In such a blur that none of them could last;
So as I cannot write the history,
I'll try to tell you what it’s meant to me.
You are the words I speak, the things I do;
You are the beating of my heart, my breath,
My all, bound indivisible ‘til death:
Each day I work to be the same for you.
And since that day, the joy of my whole life
Is being blessed to say that you're my wife.

19th May 2016

XC. A tiny, one-room flat in Cambridge was
The home we two as one first shared. But this
Was no romantic rosy bloom, because
A blight had come to mar our married bliss.
For nine long months, I sought for work to do,
And did not mark as marks of trouble grew.
Now looking back, I see I could not see
How short I fell of how you needed me.
For as the strains of study multiplied,
And as, again, the shade of darkness fell,
I could not help, for I could never tell
If I'd come home to find my joyful bride
Or one who wept and could not be consoled.
You needed more than just a hand to hold.

21st May 2016

XCI. But time passed, passing as it always goes:
A second every second, day by day,
Life's wheel turned on, the spokes we live on rose,
From out the mire and into heaven's way.
I found a job, you found a way to find
Enjoyment in the work you were assigned,
You found your faith again, we found we grew
Together as love's blossom bloomed anew.
You started helping at a Sunday School,
I covered for you, once, when you were sick,
And though I'd had no interest it was quick
To turn from helping-out into the rule.
It wasn't clear at first that we had found
A thing we'd come to shape our lives around.

24th May 2016

XCII. And you have often given me this gift:
The chance to seek to find who I might be.
When work was gone and I was cast adrift
You gave me blessing to set out to see
If I could set a story to the page
To chase ambition’s dream and not a wage.
And if it sees no publication's light
I’ll always thank you for that chance to write.
For even though the time was quickly gone,
And soon I had to find a job again,
The gift you gave me then will long remain
A cornerstone to build my hopes upon.
I hope that I’ve not been, and won't be, blind
To ways that I can pay you back in kind.

24th May 2016

XCIII. But fortune's wheel must turn, and so must we:
That low turns into high and high to low
Is hope and pain of our humanity.
So now, your study done, we weren't to know
That fruit of four years labour would be pain
Which summoned up the darkness once again.
And that profession which you'd long pursued
Would come to manifest the shade renewed.
It stole our time together, stole your joy:
For seven months I barely saw a trace
Of you, my wife, or your undarkened face.
But from that time we learned we must employ
This rule: in all we’re fated to endure
We're better off time-rich and money-poor.

25th May 2016

XCIV. And when the job was done, to my relief,
We found a place to start our lives anew.
A place to turn a fresh, unwritten leaf
And redefine what we could be and do.
So keen were we to see our fortune turned
We took no care to choose which bridges burned,
And in our haste, I fear we were unkind:
Left too much good, as well as bad, behind.
But as the wheel restored us to the day
We found that we'd both come to be employed
In jobs that we both honestly enjoyed.
And in the time we had to rest and play,
We pooled and poured our time and energy,
To try to serve our church community.

28th May 2016

XCV. We’d come to build our life and skills around
The things that we could make and do and give
To Sunday School. We very quickly found
A need for this in where we'd come to live.
We gladly gave them all we had to share;
To other people's children, lent our care.
But when we found ten years together flown
The time had come for children of our own.
We’d always known we’d wanted to adopt,
So when the chance to make the choice arose
It seemed so clear to choose the path we chose.
We did not see this bomb we blithely dropped
Could cause such devastation in its wake:
We had not seen the things there were to break.

30th May 2016

XCVI. For eighteen months we trod that tangled maze,
Time filled with forms to fill and books peruse,
With training sessions filling Saturdays,
And lengthy social worker interviews.
We knew - we thought we knew - that it was right,
And could not think of turning back, despite
The unexpected, unintended pain;
We pressed towards a prize we'd not obtain.
But in the long, long waits along the way,
We found a thing which we could share and build,
Through Sunday School and writing we were skilled,
To make a thing which could be good someday.
A thing which we could share until we could
Begin our great adventure: parenthood.

30th May 2016

XCVII. But changes at your work had with them brought
The darkness back, but this time you could claim
A course of counselling with which you fought;
Which helped you call the darkness by its name.
And with a diagnosis formalised,
The shade which stalked us might be exorcised.
We paused in our adoption process ‘til
We had made sure you were no longer ill.
But while you healed, we were not made aware
That all the work we had until then done,
Reset to where we were when we'd begun.
In eighteen months, we'd travelled to nowhere.
We picked each other up then we began
To work again, upon another plan.

30th May 2016

XCVIII. There's no great story that we have to tell,
But twelve years on from when you said ‘it's you’,
And ten from when we rang the wedding bell,
The fundamental things are always true:
In trouble, you're my shelter, strength and rest;
In work, the partner who brings out my best;
In fun and joy, you are my fondest friend;
In everything, my love from first to end.
We've had our share of hardship, pain and tears,
And often had to learn the whys and hows
Of truth and strength within our wedding vows.
But through the joy and sadness of the years
The love between our souls had only grown;
This story is just yours and mine alone.

31st May 2016