Thursday, June 17, 2010

Climbing the Wreckage

I want a man with the heart of a poet, and the hands of a day laborer.  I want a house, built by you, entirely from driftwood, kindling, bent nails, old bricks and glue.  I want you to carry me over the threshold of that house like a brand new bride, though it's been almost a decade, and I'm pregnant, and heavy.  I want you to carry me like a whisper, and when I look around at the inside of my newly built abode, I want you to whisper lines of Rilke in my ear like a promise, or a prayer.

You want a woman like a cloud, you can sink into, rest, and float.  You want a woman who carries you to the sky without ever thinking about it.  You want to paint castles in that sky, and turn them over like blueprints into my open, eager hands.  You want driftwood and kindling to align just right, and bent nails to straighten like magic under your wand.  You want that wand to be hammer and paintbrush and pencil, and you never want to choose between them, for even a moment in your life.  You want me to cup you in my hands like I could hold you forever without the slightest effort.

We have a house with crooked walls, and cracks where the foundation is gently sinking into a steep hill, half covered in ivy, and half in weeds.  I imagine lottery winnings like a to-do list written by a structural engineer.  I want to win big and pay off all our student loans.  You want to splurge on a car with a muffler that works.  In our backyard lies a large pile of oak planks, a pallet from a garage knocked down without the proper permit, and a ladder we acquired somewhere neither of us can quite recall.
    On Saturday, right after we buy our groceries at the Farmer's Market, we can climb that pile.  We'll watch for nails, and make our son wear his shoes.  I'll insist sandals are fine; there aren't that many nails, after all, and I always cut corners.  You'll shake your head at me, but hold our hands tight, and keep us safe.  I'll pretend you're carrying me, like a bride over the threshold.  You can pretend I'm lifting you up like a cloud, if you want.  But we'll both have to climb to get to the top of that pile, and chances are it will be raining, and slippery, and the mosquitoes are getting bad out there lately; have you noticed?

    But let's climb anyway.  Let's climb that pile of wreckage, which is what we really have, here today, out of all our big, silly dreams.  It's oak, you told me, and it will burn long next winter when we use it in the fireplace.  And it was free.  I found it on freecycle, and you loaded into the back of your loud, broken station wagon that, I'm sorry, we still can't afford to fix.  Not this paycheck, and maybe not the next one.  But let's climb the pile of broken, battered dreams in our yard, and shout lines from Rilke into the rain, and let's show our boy that the climbing, the scrambling toward the dreams, is the part that makes you laugh the loudest, and the longest.  There's not always enough laughter in the big dreams, but there's so much laughter in slipping, and in falling.

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