Friday, May 26, 2023

Above All Else, to Thine Own Self By B. Lynne Zika

After 30 years,

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.