THE LONG-TERM MARRIAGE
At last she’s happy, reigning with her creams,
rubbing his scalp’s roof until it gleams.
As the squamous-cell carcinomas sprout,
the local dermatologist cuts them out
or frosts the lunar surface with liquid nitrogen.
The creams come from West Fourteenth Street, Manhattan,
FedExed from their adopted son’s boyfriend’s home,
a relationship that remains, to them, unknown.
Their Oriental rugs are steeped in piss
from the bulldog barking like an activist.
Bickering over misplaced books, the tchotchkes
lost, and how she re-remembers her stories,
they wait with an unfinished, finished look,
and note how honeysuckle crowns Old Saybrook
and thistles overrun their last garden.
The dash between their dates is nearly done.
Published in The New Yorker, April 13, 2009; on my bulletin board since then.
On a spring day in Portland, Oregon, I celebrate meeting my spouse in Manhattan. March 1966, a large, airless room at a counseling conference in the Commodore Hotel. He was presenting; I was in the audience determined to get my question answered. He took me for an ice cream soda at a nearby Schrafft's on 42nd Street.. It was a lovely day; we walked twenty blocks south.
We lived four blocks apart--Ron in a classic 8-story 1930s building--one-bedroom, rent-controlled ($110) on East 24th. Mine was a smaller studio ($160), in a new 21-story high-rise. We married in his apartment October 29, 1966--the same year NOW began. The word "femnism" was not in my vocabulary at the time. We disagreed on the war in Vietnam. We moved quickly toward working on equality between women and men--and being very opposed to the "American war," as it's known in Vietnam.
Two children, four grandchilddren, several moves--Oberlin, Ohio then Baltimore, Maryland, then back to New York City before landing in Portland.
The Commodore, built in 1919, was renovated inside and out in 1980. Unrecognizable to us in its current state. Schrafft's is gone. We are still New Yorkers in spirit, almost 50 years later, in Portland, Oregon.