Our wedding picture, sixty years ago!
The sun was brighter then, the lunatic moon
madder, driving the urgency of our love
to wilder, sillier laughter then. And love—
what we called love, passion—that crazy wine—
held us giddy, dazzling along our veins.

But time! Invincible time! Time trips us
down and down as we weaken, we age, we fall,
and love is different here in the wounding world—
denser, darker, not for youth or joy.
It thrusts the wounded, weighted spirit down
to the deeper vision, the soul’s own roots,
then whispers, “Love! Now! For now is the need!”

Today, when I see you saddened by age and loss
and illness, oh I am sick, sick to my bones—
the sun is dimmed, the moon a dead stone.
And you, my wealth, my only good, my bride,
my sweet lady, are being slowly drawn,
sadly drawn out of the river of life.

Perhaps the world—so hard, so sick with loss,
where even the longest loves lose to grief—
perhaps the world’s despair is, by design,
the harsh training ground, the school, the test
of love; perhaps the master class in care.
We graduate from this; we pass to—what?
Perhaps to a better, brighter, lighter way.

Meanwhile, giving more than we may take,
we are honored by entry into the harsh school,
this often-wounding drill, this pain, this hope.


Paul Panish’s poetry has been published in literary journals, including Signal, The Formalist, War, Literature, and the Arts Journal, Poetica Magazine, The Raven’s Perch, Smoky Blue Literary and Arts Magazine, and others, going back to the 1960s.