What an odd yet strange and wonderful thing it is to tether oneself to another human being through the act of marriage. To say, “you’re the one!” with the intention that they’re the one forever. Until death do you part. Even after death, we comfort ourselves by imagining our dearly departed waiting for us behind those pearly gates, just on the other side. Well maybe that’s not exactly how we each envision it; from accounts I’ve read from the other side there are bright lights and an energy, a sort of life force that’s difficult to describe. A place we go back to from whence we came. I believe in this energy, in the light that glows within us – ‘our spirit’ – that is extinguished once we’re gone. It’s a romantic notion, but I have to, I have to believe in living on in some form after death, the way I have to believe in marriage and love. Both forces are equally dubious yet unmistakeably felt.
I began writing this blog yesterday with the intention of dedicating it to Dan in honour of our upcoming eleven-year wedding anniversary, but the piece took a turn when I remembered a line I heard recently in a reading – a poem, The Country of Marriage by Wendell Berry. Poems apparently have the power to control your thoughts and fingers typing on a keyboard. Once I began traveling to the country of marriage through my writing, the piece evolved and transformed itself from the lighthearted voice and tone of my blog post writing into a more lyrical, deeply felt, literary piece you would call an essay, which is, as Cynthia Ozick puts it, “A stroll through someone’s mazy mind.” Pieces of Wendell’s poem became part of the essay and the basis of each scene construction, forming my own ideas about what constitutes a country of marriage. You can’t just throw a phrase like ‘country of marriage’ out at a writer and not expect them to pounce on it. I wrote on that idea with a rabid fervour. Anyway, you’ll have to read about it in my next book. I promise tears (mine), steam rising, oppressors, ex-boyfriends, rugged terrain, the torn skin of a scalp, the taste of alcohol, knees pressed together, Down syndrome, and a belly (mine) as full as the moon. We have gone some places, my husband and I, in our country of marriage.
But this post isn’t all lost causes, because today I remembered another line that I happily dedicate to the man who walks alongside me.
Unable to perceive the shape of you, I find you all around me. Your presence fills my eyes with your love. It humbles my heart, for you are everywhere.
~ The Shape of Water, adapted and translated (likely) from 13th century Sufi mystic poet Rumi
When I heard this, I thought it was one of the most romantic notions conceived, unable to perceive the shape of you. Rumi is, of course, speaking of God. Love may be the closest facsimile of divinity I’ve encountered in my life, and so I think these lines are just about right.
Eleven years in our country of marriage, unable to perceive the shape of you, I find you all around me. Your presence fills my eyes with your love. It humbles my heart, for you are everywhere.
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