The Marriage Dance

first dance

Remember when we swayed
clasped body to body,
drunk with love, while people
watched and cooed and cheered

Lost on our rocking boat
the dancefloor filled with friends
and excited children
without us noticing 

I trod on your silk skirts
with my clumsy left feet
tangled, we tripped and laughed
and were both indulgent  

The flowers in your hair
slipped and fell to the floor
and were crushed beneath us
and it didn’t matter 

Then when the beat of the music changed
we drew apart
we misaligned
and we mistimed the rhythm

That tender way we danced
it seems so long ago



I say ‘tomato’…

Writing 101, day 5.  Use a quote as inspiration.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

On the surface, my husband and I are two very different creatures.  He is academic, one of the clever ones, who shone at school and studied at Oxford.  Me, well, I was a thickie. Someone who really didn’t achieve, who hated school and left as soon as possible without any further education.

However, when we met at an AmDram society, and he was my leading man, we clicked immediately.  Laughing at the same things, talking endlessly about nothing in particular. The rest, as they say, is history.

Over the course of the last 34 years he has encouraged me when I wallowed in self-doubt, to the extent that I ended up gaining an Open University degree, and being comfortable enough (just about) with my writing to publish poems and short stories on my blog. He pushed me to apply for jobs I didn’t feel good enough for, yet got anyway. I feel he believes in me.

On the other hand, I think I have taught him to let go of his serious side once in a while, and be silly (equally important in my opinion), relax and enjoy life and see the funny side whenever possible. I’ve done my best to support him in some life-changing decisions, for instance, when we upped sticks and moved our little family ‘up North’.

Even after all this time, we remain individuals.  I know he categorically fails to understand my love of technology, or for that matter, my dedication to yoga practice.  But then, I’m bored to tears by the endless history programmes he enjoys.  He likes cooking, I do it because I have to.  I like loud music, he tolerates it. We are opposites in many ways, but opposites that complement each other – I can fix his laptop, he can make delicious meals for me!

Of course, we have joint interests too, which together with our shared experiences of parenting, homebuilding, travel, joy, doubts and sorrows means we will always have common ground.  Things to reminisce over in our rapidly approaching old age.

I don’t like to talk about it much, but he is my second husband.  I was liberated from the first one nearly forty years ago, so it seems irrelevant.  But I understand and appreciate the deep truth of the quote above particularly because of the experience of my first marriage.  That man was extraordinarily possessive and jealous.  I was very young and didn’t really realise it initially, but he treated me like a possession to be paraded and put back in a box.  I wasn’t allowed out on my own or allowed to wear make-up to work in case I attracted attention. I naively believed that it was because he loved me so much.  In reality, it was a destructive, humiliating, and one-sided ‘marriage’.

That has all passed, and though it is a life lesson that has not been quite forgotten, at least it’s been overwritten by happier times.  By marriage to a good man who is happy for me to make my own weird stamp on the world.  Who, in cheesy Hollywood speak ‘completes me’, who is the yin to my yang, the broadband to my laptop.  Ok, we may bicker occasionally, sometimes we need our own space, but that quote above says it all ‘we quiver to the same music’. We have true love and for that I am deeply thankful.

The Marriage

Her, with her white-veiled smile, looking up at me.
Him, with his unlikely carnation. Shifty eyed.
The football-shirted pageboy,
flanked by two pink princesses,
sulkily kicks an invisible ball

The mum and dad wouldn’t come.
Too young, they said through tearful, pleading eyes.
I pray to god to bless this union,
Though secretly my heart despairs.
Friends cheer as they briefly kiss

Back down the aisle in the meringue inspired, empire-line dress
To the waiting limousine,
Back to the waiting council house clothes,
and the soon-to-be occupied nursery.
To the terraces of silent acceptance.

Five kids and many beatings later,
before she’s even 40, I’ll see her again in white robes.
Nicotine stained fingers betraying her killer
as surely as any pathology could
Friends sigh, and turn their faces, as she glides away