American Life Poetry

Published on Thu, Mar 19, 2009 by Ted Kooser

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Former U.S. Poet Laureate

To have a helpful companion as you travel through life is a marvelous gift. This poem by Gerald Fleming, a long-time teacher in the San Francisco public schools, celebrates just such a relationship.

Long Marriage

You’re worried, so you wake her
& you talk into the dark:
Do you think I have cancer, you
say, or Were there worms
in that meat, or Do you think
our son is OK, and it’s
wonderful, really – almost
ceremonial as you feel
the vessel of your worry pass
miraculously from you to her –
Gee, the rain sounds so beautiful,
you say – I’m going back to sleep.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright (c)2005 by Gerald Fleming. Reprinted from “Swimmer Climbing onto Shore,” by Gerald Fleming, Sixteen Rivers Press, San Francisco, 2005, by permission of the author. Introduction copyright (c) 2009 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.