he’s seen your hair uncombed.
No makeup. Even days when
ill or too fatigued, you haven’t bathed,
much less thought about being presentable.
Such familiarity offers
a variety of roads. You might
give up romance altogether,
staying to care for children or bills
or the expectations you have of yourselves
and each other.
You might stay for comfort or affection,
tending to each other
the best way you know how:
Bringing her coffee in the morning.
Letting him know how his hard work
makes this world bearable.
Or you might fan the flames
of the fires which first brought you together
and remind each other
what you saw there in the first place—
the way his sweater draped
around your shoulders,
the way her perfume lingered
long after you’d taken her home
so that you sniffed the car seats
to remember her presence.
Whichever way you go,
make it a choice. When you’re tempted
to tell her how she thinks of no one
but herself, remember the nights
you staggered in from work
and she brought you a cool drink,
the ice nearly spilling over the rim
the way you like it.
Remember the night your daughter was born
he paced the hallway, not even minding
when you yelled at him to get the hell out.
Choose to wake up in the same house
every day. And if you can’t choose it
but stay anyway, for God’s sake
know why and choose that.
If your dreams take you elsewhere,
dream. And if the entire world
refuses to forgive you,
be content with yourself, knowing
the eyes which look back at you
from the mirror
are no one else’s but your own.
B. Lynne Zika, a long-term closed-captioning editor, is an award-winning poet and photographer. Her recent book, The Strange Case of Eddy Whitfield, multiformat, is available through standard booksellers. Her father, also a writer/poet, bequeathed her this advice: Make every word count.