Fifteen years ago his heart
infarcted and he stopped smoking.
     At eighty he trembled
like a birch but remained vigorous
     and acute.
                       When they married,
fifty years ago, I was twelve.
     I observed the white lace
veil, the mumbling preacher, and the flowers
     of parlor silence
and ordinary absurdity; but
     I thought I stood outside
the parlor.
                 For two years she dwindled
     by small strokes
into a mannequin—speechless almost, almost
     unmoving, eyes open
and blinking, fitful in perception—
     but a mannequin that suffered
shame when it stained the bed sheet.
     Slowly, shaking with purpose,
he carried her to the bathroom,
     undressed and washed her,
dressed her in clean clothes, and carried her back
     to CNN and bed. “All
you need is love,” sang John and Paul:
     He touched her shoulder; her eyes
caressed him like a bride’s bold eyes.

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