The table was simple on Sunday night: P-dub’s chicken pot pie rested in the center, and a colorful, California-filled salad awaited consumption. Keith and I sat on one side of the table, Marie and the HBH (Hot Black Husband) on the other, with Cancan the crowning glory at the far end of the table. We clinked our glasses of wine and sparkling mineral water, and eyes open, we each breathed a prayer of thankfulness.
And then, as always seems to happen, things got real, fast.
We talked about traveling and work, writing and babies. We entertained Boy Toddler and we gulped down the savory pie, marveling at the accidentally-purchased gluten-free crust that made all of us wonder if we should more regularly tack the letters “G” and “F” onto our eating habits.
And maybe they’re just those kind of people – you know, the type everyone wants to be around, who make the act of being easy. They laugh at all the right times, and they really, truly want to know about your life; and you think, you hope that it’s mutual because this is the way friendship and marriage and relationships are supposed to be.
But maybe the thing you like and appreciate best about their partnership is that they’re real. They don’t pretend like they have it all together, and somehow, someway, they encourage you to do the same, leaning day by day into that lovely, messy thing called Life. Because you look at their marriage, and even though you sometimes feel like the old woman who lived with her plethora-of-shoes, you think to yourself, I want what they have. I want their raw, real authenticity. I want the way they are with each other and for each other, but each as solid, perfectly imperfect human beings.
And then, because they’re just those kind of people, they’re also mildly brilliant. So after a Round Robin discussion circling the Ukraine, the Oscars and picturesque views of Paris in the holiday season, all seemingly in one breath, they read their favorite poem to you.
And you melt.
Because it’s perfect.
Because in a flowery, shimmery, holy sort of way, you are the bread and the knife, the crystal goblet and the wine. But there’s a whole lot of things you are not, that he, your other is. And for that you are so very, very thankful that you didn’t marry your copy cat of a man, the one you originally thought you’d be perfect alongside. But instead you said “yes” to the shooting star, and to the blind woman’s tea cup – and really, you wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Litany” by Billy Collins
You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the dew on the morning grass
and the burning wheel of the sun.
You are the white apron of the baker,
and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.
However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
the plums on the counter,
or the house of cards.
And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.
There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.
It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
maybe even the pigeon on the general’s head,
but you are not even close
to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.
And a quick look in the mirror will show
that you are neither the boots in the corner
nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.
It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the sound of rain on the roof.
I also happen to be the shooting star,
the evening paper blowing down an alley
and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.
I am also the moon in the trees
and the blind woman’s tea cup.
But don’t worry, I’m not the bread and the knife.
You are still the bread and the knife.
You will always be the bread and the knife,
not to mention the crystal goblet and–somehow–the wine.
What about you? Who are those GEM-filled people in your life? And regarding the poem, what does it say to you?