A Poem and Painting Dedicated to This Union

Ode to A Marriage, Max Reif, 2022

The figure at the top of the house is Meher Baba, the personification of the “Higher Power” of the couple.

I.

When I’m awake
and you’re asleep
upstairs,
often early in the morning,
I like being alone.

I love my solitude—
but would it be
anywhere near the same
if you weren’t here?

You are giving,
even as you slumber,
in this exquisite balancing
we call marriage.

At such times,
speaking perhaps too esoterically,
I’m the conscious side
of our partnership,
you, the unconscious.

Other times,
often in hours after midnight,
those roles are reversed.

II.

It’s true I value my solitude,
but I don’t think that means
I love you any less.

Our evenings together,
our check-in phone calls during the day,
our meals out,
our “cuddling”—
even our efforts
to work through
our kinks
are precious to me,
and I think, to you.

We are so much more
than we realize.
I feel almost as if
our home itself
is alive,
containing the sum of us,
far greater than
the two parts.

III.

Barbara and Max

Long ago,
when we connected
in the serendipitous way
that was so “us”—
so “you,” who
initiated things with an email—

and when, long-distance
for the first year,
punctuated by
two visits each way,
you supported my struggles
with such unconditional love,

I enshrined you
in my heart as my angel,
even my “saviour with a small s,”
and thought I had it made for life.

Such idealization
couldn’t last, of course.
We are each
so many people;
but, I often still see
“her” shining in you.

What you are to me,
what I am to you
are perhaps, while not being
so conspicuously “shiny,”
every bit as sacred, as precious

as we continue
learning new steps of
this complicated
and profound dance.

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image 1: Max Reif; image 2: Max Reif

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