Napo 16 and 17

At the poets' table! From left -- Edward Vidaurre, Emmy Perez,
myself, Sergio, Nayelly Barrios, Celina Gomez, and Chris
My love, B, was behind the camera, which is his usual spot.
So, yesterday was pretty special. I was honored to read a poem at the wedding of my friends Rodney Gomez and Sara Herrera. Being invited to do this was just so humbling. When Rodney told me about his plans for this evening, my heart melted. I eagerly agreed.

The only problem? I don't really write love poetry. I'm a feminist poet, and, well, us feminists have a pretty conflicted relationship with love poetry, because so often it comes across as objectifiying -- written by a male subject to an unmoving female object. Bleh. Or it comes across as cliched, overly sentimental, gushing and bleh. So, in short, although I love the idea of love and love poetry, it's just something I find difficult to do well. Or maybe it's just that love is such a powerful force in our lives as human beings that it's so difficult to find words that give it justice.

Anyway, this event was a perfect opportunity for me to try my hand at writing some love poems, but hopefully, in my own voice. This past year has put a special kind of pressure on my life with my health issues, and B's been having some personal struggles, too. So I thought to myself, what can I say about love? What might ring true from my experiences, being married now for 10 years, having endured good and bad times?

I came to the conclusion that love, the kind I feel anyway, can't have a reason or a pretense, it has to be simply for the sake of itself. There can't really BE a reason you love someone, because that reason can be pulled out from under you like a rug. You have to love without hope or expectation.

And then, that reminded me of what B does out in our garden. Regardless of the season, he's always there, tending it, taking care of it, loving it, no matter if it's a time of plenty of a time of decline. He does it because he loves it, that's all. When there's fruit or flowers, he loves that, too. When the garden is mostly just naked branches, he takes care of and loves those twigs and dead leaves. He simply loves the company of our garden.

And I like to think he feels the same way about me, too.

Anyway, so I wrote a little series of poems for Rodney and Sara about a gardener tending his plants throughout the seasons simply because he loves them. No reason. No expectation. No pretense. Just simple love. And that's the love that I think will get you through the decades. If B loved me for my body, well, it's broken now. If I loved B for his fancy car (ok, maybe I did back when I first met him), he's sold it so we could pay the rent back when we were young and broke and stupid. Love needs to be simply for itself. Because, you know, if you work at it, that'll always, always be there.

The wedding itself was gorgeous. I attended the ceremony and the reception. Sara, the bride, is Catholic, and I always feel so awkward at Catholic services because I never know what to do and end up looking silly (I'm a Baptist). The reception was held at the history museum, which was such a cool venue! Rodney, the ultimate romantic, wrote a book of poems for Sara and gave them out as wedding favors. It was titled Fair Weather Machine, which is absolutely lovely. Regardless of the storms, he's always got sunshine because of Sara. Awwww....

The poetry reading itself was just after dinner. I gulped down some wine. Rodney had also invited Celina Gomez, Nayelly Barrios, and Edward Vidaurre to read. Each of us read at least one poem from Rodney's book. I read the eponymous poem, just because I loved it so much, in addition to my own poem. Edward read a really sexy poem which got the crowd hooting and cheering. It was pretty much perfect.

The poems I wrote for the wedding are actually Napo 10-14, though those are rough drafts. These two poems are ones I wrote after the wedding, inspired by all the love in the world. There is so much to celebrate, and you know, it's kind of miraculous.

Napo 16

At the Wedding

His was a carefully choreographed dance – first,
Lift your hands in prayer, then kneel and close your eyes,
Fill up the chalice of wine, serve the communion bread
On a silver platter, ask the couple if they’re willing,
If they understand all that’s to come, the marriage
That he blesses with a prayer that rolls from heart
To tongue to congregation. The incense rises
To the ceiling, illuminates the rays of light

that glace the bride’s bare shoulders. Her voice
is like hesitating raindrops before the storm.
Her fingers quake as the groom slips the ring on,
His own words swift and faltering like wind.
When their lips meet, shy and trembling,

They taste the uncertain musk of earth.

Napo 17

Lying in Bed, Listening to a Thunderstorm

Lightning rips apart the stillness
Of the moments before dawn outside
my bedroom window. Gusts of wind
rush into the cracks. Clouds obscure
any traces of the sunrise, a slate wall
of gray and black that swirls in
off the gulf. It’s spring, the season
where rainstorms rattle me awake.

I lay in bed, my body still beneath the covers
Wonder for a moment where I am,
Who I am, a wet leaf in the center of the storm,
Until his arm wraps around me like a stream
Of sunshine and he pulls me into his warmth,
His breath warm like gentle summer breeze.