A litany of loves labors found
Saturday my husband and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary. We spent it together in the city where we met, San Francisco. I like to think of our wedding anniversary much like a second birthday. It is a birth into two-ness and out of one-ness. It is a commitment to grow and change together. It has always been my contention that true love comes with someone who makes you better than you are alone. I don’t mean in any way that they fix you or that it is your job somehow to fix them but that the whole is greater than the sum of it parts. A synergy is found; something can be produced in the togetherness that cannot be found apart. This doesn’t mean there are no challenges, or discord or discomfort, in fact that is probably necessary to move to new levels…but not all the time, the squeaky wheels must get greased on occasion, for a long satisfied hum to be heard. This reflection on relationships reminds me of a favorite poem that considers relationship, written by former National Poet Laureate Billy Collins. The poem begins with an epigraph, a translation of a French language poem by Belgian poet Jacques Crickillon, which reads “You are the bread and the knife/The crystal goblet and the wine.”
You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the dew on the morning grass
and the burning wheel of the sun.
You are the white apron of the baker,
and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.
However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
the plums on the counter,
or the house of cards.
And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.
There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.
It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
maybe even the pigeon on the general’s head,
but you are not even close
to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.
And a quick look in the mirror will show
that you are neither the boots in the corner
nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.
It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the sound of rain on the roof.
I also happen to be the shooting star,
the evening paper blowing down an alley
and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.
I am also the moon in the trees
and the blind woman’s tea cup.
But don’t worry, I’m not the bread and the knife.
You are still the bread and the knife.
You will always be the bread and the knife,
not to mention the crystal goblet and–somehow–the wine.
I love this poem for its wittiness and candor. Collins speaks of both what his beloved is and what she is not. He then gives a litany of what he is, reassuring her, and himself, that he is not the bread and the knife, she will always be the bread and the knife.
Take the week to ponder these lovely lines and consider what you are and what you are not perhaps in the context of someone you love. I’ll do the same we will check back on Friday. Feel free as always to add you comments or email me an image to add at firstname.lastname@example.org