It’s also my husband, John McDowell’s, and my 25th wedding anniversary!
We were married in the chapel of Pitt's Lutheran Student Center, with the reception downstairs.
We have already posted on Facebook about that, but I wanted to post here some of the poems I’ve written for John over the years, those that aren’t too private.
Here is my favorite picture of the king of my heart…..
And the first poem, written when we were dating, and always his favorite:
Climbing the rain-slicked hill,
I see him
flung across the sky,
maned neck arched,
echo of the earth’s curve,
vast vaned wings flecked with fire,
hooves spurning the green spume of tree-tops,
and I cry WAIT!
as the flank of another hill hides him.
Beech-leaves spin across my path.
I stop for breath.
The sky is empty
except for two salmon bars of cloud.
Love Is the Root
(lyrics from a song of mine, written in 1984, played at our wedding, 1988)
Callas and lilies white-gleamng,
grey-weathered pillars, rose-scented water
poplars tall candles
pointing the way
to Heaven above.
I stand, rapt with love
the root of all,
the root of All, and
Love is the fountain
making lives flower.
Without its tender touch
we wither, we die
we die for
Love is the fountain,
the fountain of life and
Love is the bulwark,
lending us shelter.
When it falls to dust
we are ashes on the wind
Love is the bulwark
Love is the fountain and
Love is the root
of us all.
Last night Mary Martin on wires,
Cyril Richard tangos
I watched in north Jersey,
mad at Daddy’s reluctance
to clap belief in Tinkerbell.
You saw it in Hickory, PA;
broke your arm trying to fly.
Later arthritis attacked,
prisoned you in a wheelchair,
shortened your reach.
Last March we got engaged,
part of a vision which loving people
had said you could never have.
Next day, up one of Pittsburgh’s seven steepest hills,
from Fifth up Negley,
a pair of lace-toed sneakers
hung high over a cable,
One year later, celebrating
your dozen years’ release from the chair,
going home with roses
I see again those shoes
dancing on air
love you for your flying.
Stalking the Wild Wheaties
These hot mornings I’m an owl.
John is more awake,
eating Wheaties from his dish.
Small black kitten
slips from under the napkin in my lap,
hides behind blue kettle,
splashes into the bowl.
He’s the champ!
John loses his cool;
Valentine for my husband John
(Tuesday, February 14th, 1989)
Today last year
you brought me
a fantastic card,
a red carnation in an olive-jar vase,
the offer of a future us.
We ate Greek,
& rockets took off,
fireworks flashing behind my closed eyelids
You are my size, sometimes larger.
Our hands fit.
Mostly we fit.
“Each can live alone,” you said,
“and we know that. But the world is brighter
like the Hawthornes,
our beginning marriage
is in C/concord.
Thank you for that offer,
for our new reality.
(Ohiopyle, PA Autumn, 1989)
Watching yellow and purple kayakers
drive double-bladed paddles
against fall’s foam,
drift from the rapids
to quieter edges beside
rocks pocked with stray pools,
you and I held hands,
moved carefully over those brown slabs.
Casually you mentioned
you’d gone whitewater rafting twice
fell out each time past the Double Hydraulic,
how you were harder to carry to your wheelchair,
heavy with wet.
We sniffed leaf-smoke,
eyed the tackiness of Fall’s Market,
went back to the river.
You were so gutsy, I said.
New camera busy, you shook your head.
You’d been bored foolhardy nuts.
Then you smile.
But it was fun.
Wonder what kayaking is like…
(January 28th, 2011)
the Superb Bird
dances, black caped, iridescent feathergleam,
Birds of Paradise on their cleared platforms
vibrating ethereal call
Tribal elders take treasured
feathers from bamboo tubes,
lovingly kept for ritual moving to life-stages.
We courted more than twenty years past
yet those brightgleam memories
platform for our lives.
Note: these are two exotic birds found in Papua New Guinea, seen in a Richard Attenborough show on PBS,
The Rarest Metal
(August 20th, 2013)
Many tellers tell one traditional tale that
reflects their life.
Many harpers play a beloved tune that
resonates their life.
“Once upon a time, lang time past….”
…there was a boy trapped in pain
--and a girl with a heart like a beating bird
…and the boy became a man forging his own freedom
with the magic of stars & math & sharing
resplendent with courage & caring
--and the girl grew to a woman whose heart was torn,
trampled by fear, doubt, & loss
stubbornly seeking more
with words, notes, writing
and they met.
Like Aragorn fighting Orcs and Uruk-hai
Like Arwen defying Black Riders
banishing old shackles of who they could/should be
venturing outward to newness
until the day dawned, crowned with love
until they wed,
lived five cubed years
entwined/supportive as trees, growing
music and laughter
memories and stories,
rejoicing in each other.
We are more together than alone, in that brighter world
both forged and embroidered
Not our silver anniversary, but
rarer still: mithril.