I knew the first time you held my hand,
walking past window displays in Naples and seeing our reflection in the glass
– the difference in our ages blustered away in the sea breeze –
that the spark between us was not a passing fancy.
When “Longer” played on the radio, when we danced to Ann Murray
or crooned like gooney birds to Kenny and Dolly,
the fabric of our hearts began to weave inseparably together and I said to myself:
“I am a lucky girl.”
Murphy Jones and Emma Moriarty, Harry Burns and Sally Albright,
Kathleen Kelly and Joe Fox.
Silly characters in which we saw ourselves—
our own lives juxtapositioning similar to theirs and finding that we, too,
Because of you I fell in love with the outdoors, where fishing and knitting made
amiable companions for two people who enjoyed long stretches of silence…
I liked street rods; you liked classics.
(To me, classic cars are street rods without their make-up.)
We admired both at car meets…another commonality of our friendship.
And I thought once again, “I am a lucky girl.”
Fords, Chevys, Chryslers, Cords, Packards, Pontiacs,
Olds, Willys, Duesies, Dodges, DeSotos, Buicks, Nashes,
Studebakers, Mercuries, Caddys, Chalmers…need I go on?
You set out to teach me to identify each by its signature ornament—
a feat I never mastered.
I set out to teach you appreciation for Steinbeck, classical guitar and fine food.
A fair trade-off, you agreed.
We always had fun, but what drew me to you most was your inner character.
Public or private, it never wavered.
Gentle man you were, quiet, thoughtful, always a smile tickling your insides.
In tune with nature, in sync with life, more serene than most men, even as your
book of years slowly leafed toward its conclusion.
For the past twenty you’ve been like a cat with nine lives, cheating death with
a wink and a nod.
Then one day – all at once, it seemed – the binding cracked and pages loosened
Your spirit reached a turning point then, and sought its true home.
Lying in that hospital bed, just hours before you slipped into final slumber,
you pulled me toward you, steadfastly bestowing dozens and dozens,
and dozens of kisses.
“Goodbye, goodbye, my love!”
How my heart sobbed and wrenched in anguish as I realized
the truth you were imparting.
Today I sit with pen in hand, writing these words of parting to you, sweet husband.
I feel not a widow but a married woman, still in love, for the last time in my life.
“I am, indeed, a lucky girl.”
© Denise Marie Siino, 2016