Confession

When first I said I loved you, I confess I was afraid
of what those words had signed me up to; had I just made
an inadvertent contract which could never be unsigned?

And later, when the statement was a habit of our speech,
I still kept an escape clause, for my comfort, out of your reach
in a locked drawer of the cabinet of my secret mind.

It stayed there for years, as insurance, a hedge for my bet,
as if, after the swoon of our life together, I might yet
fall to earth with a bump, and rub my eyes, and need to get out.

In your mind, from the start, our claim on each other was free.
You had no foolish phobia about being stuck with me
and with the unlooked-for luggage which love brings; no nagging doubt.

What was I so afraid of all those thousands of spendthrift days
when people had long ago joined our names up in a phrase
and we smiled for the camera, an item, a couple, a pair?

Did I seriously imagine some truer life elsewhere?

I don’t recall.
There is no paper in the drawer.
There is no truer life I’m looking for.
Before it gets too late, my darling,
may I again just state
how much, imperfectly, I love you, luggage and all?

Listen to this poem — read by the author