Shakespearean sonnet: Love and marriage

There’s not much left now. All that stuff, brand-new,
We unwrapped, gasping, twenty years ago
Has faded, been passed on, expired, worn through
Or simply vanished. Little did we know
That toaster would explode, those shining pans
Burn black, the glasses chip, the gleaming knives
Turn dull, plates end up mismatched. Some grand plans
Got mislaid, too, somehow. But what survives
We had no need to list; came with no box
Or owner’s manual, spares or guarantee.
It’s just kept right on working, stood life’s shocks
And daily labours; quietly, constantly.
A gift we gave each other with no strings.
Still ours when we have lost all other things.


This isn’t my usual line of country, but we’ve been invited to a wedding in May, which got me thinking about wedding gifts, and then our own forthcoming 21st anniversary this summer. Love changes with life and time, but for us, at least, it keeps soldiering on somehow. I guess we’re the lucky ones. N.

Slipping away

The long farewell

She never leaves this room
But long months
She has not been here.

The girls with their practised smiles,
Brisk words and time-is-money hands
Come and go; each routine visit
The first time they’ve ever met.

And after sixty years
He’s a stranger, too;
Well-known enough
Not to be frightening,
But no longer
The man who wrote her
Two hundred letters from the war,
Gave her three babies
And the happy home her giddy girlhood
Dreams were made of;
Filled and healed her heart
A thousand times for every time
He broke it,
And in their souls’ communion
Washed away the evils
Of the world.

Now she is reborn
Each morning;
Entering anew a world she has never seen
Does not understand
And will not know tomorrow.
A slow, sad unremembering
Until she finally forgets even
To breathe.