My parents have been married for 46 years. She's from Delaware and he's from Louisiana so it's pretty cool the way that they met. My father was attending college in Cleveland, Tennessee and at the time, dating my mother's sister. My mother was one of three girls in her family and she was the one who always felt like the runt. Her sisters were outgoing and courageous and full of confidence. Not so much, my mother. She never saw herself as beautiful or special, even though she was, and still is. My father took a road trip to Delaware with his girlfriend to meet the family, and he met, and fell in love with my mother. Awkward. But 46 years later, they're still in love. Forty-six years is plenty of time to build hurt and resentment but it's also plenty of time to build a story. A pretty good story, too.
So here's a poem that I wrote back in college celebrating who they were. It's taken from a photo of the two of them that I used to stare at in the midst of a really, bad patch that they went through. I thought they hated each other. But I had this photograph that showed such passion and youth, it fascinated me. Still does.
Beneath the Stairs
Your sister was the one. She brought
a Louisiana boy to the frigid state
of Delaware. Gangly, smelling of Noxzema,
he stumbled into your life
on her slender arm.
She was the popular one, the one
that boys talked about in locker rooms.
The one with the feminine curves,
dimpled smile and brilliant blue eyes.
Mother, you often said that you
were her negative. But even so,
before that weekend was over,
weren't you the one he was kissing
on the floral love seat,
beneath the stairs?
Someone, not your sister, captured
that moment in a photo and everytime
I look at it, I still cannot believe
you ever kissed him so passionately.
Today, you talk of wifely duties
and I wonder, when did you lose
her, that passionate girl necking
on her mother's love seat with a boy