And so we advance together down the decades—she with her matter-of-fact
advice: “Don’t sleep on your stomach; you’ll hurt your back….You’ll be sorry
if you drink all that,” I with my large gestures: “Here, let me put sunblock
on your nose…. Stop a minute, so I can tie your shoe.”
It’s true, sometimes I go too far, as when I creep behind her and kiss her ear,
or rifle her white shock of hair (of which I am both envious and proud),
or grasp her shoulder to steer her through a crowd, and she might shake
me off. But that is no more than I deserve.
All day I extol her: “Have I told you how cute you look when you yawn?
How bright your brown eyes are, now that you have had caffeine!” And on
and on. I don’t know what pleasure she gets from this, only the pleasure
I feel to speak such words. And she lets me do so.
Late at night when she is deep asleep, her body migrates across the sheets,
her toes touch my toes, her thigh mine, the small pressure of her small hand
in the small of my back, her sturdy heart beneath her camisole…
I lie utterly still, those parts of me I can control.
What I love most is, when walking, how she grips my elbow to arrest
my pace, and her fingertips touch my inner wrist and flutter down
to tickle my palm on the journey to their nesting place interlocked
with mine, so warm, and I am happy, happy.
Poet and essayist Rick Kempa lives in Rock Springs, Wyoming. Recently retired after thirty years at Western Wyoming College, he has embarked on a path of full-time writing and walking. For more info, please see www.rickkempa.com
Painting: “Our Beauty”
Artist: Henry L. Jones
2019 – 16×20 inches – mixed media on canvas