Eventually it comes between us:
not the plaster barricade
between every tender moment we might have,
but the dependence.
After the flurry of surgeons and worry of damage
there is the carrying of urine, changing of bandage,
the creak of crutches and incessant talk of scabs.
Like a shabby patch of grass
I am stretched out beneath him
benignly offering servitude:
not the meal or the pillow, the TV or the bed or the Vicodin
but the nagging truth
behind it all.
In short, it’s unromantic:
this child in the shape of my husband,
this outstretched hand, rumpled head and hungry mouth.
And the bright side? Well, talk to me another day.
For now it is logistics and meds,
car pools and take-out,
the weight of one house,
its dishes and litter and dust on my shoulders.
And then there is the moment
we look across the bed at one another,
mangled leg between us like a sleeping child
and understand this is what it will one day be like:
crisis and then a kind of solitude.
This is what the broken leg has brought us: a glimpse
of the way life will take us to our knees before we leave it.
I want to say thanks a lot.
It’s hard enough some days
to drag myself from bed, tired pilgrim
limping toward the impossible grotto of happiness,
without it tangibly beside me,
a reminder of my body’s
tremendous capacity for decay.
And did I mention the servitude? How I proffer it
tenderly and resentfully at once, each day
a new opportunity to fail him.
Yet, I can appreciate that bike that broke his leg