Nov 19, 2014 - Writer's Life    2 Comments

I Do

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This is the poem I read to Leigh at our wedding.

I Do
 
Sixteen years and here we are saying it again, “I do.”
I do take you, choose you, want you, love you. I do. 
Only queers must say it formally so many times
to the same person, and sometimes,
I love this–I do–but sometimes I rebel 
because you know it’s true that I love you:
like freshly mown grass and clean sheets
like the light in the east
growing bright until I’m blinded by my love for you.
I love you as much as Romeo ever loved a Juliet
no matter who is playing who.
However, it’s annoying to have to say it
in front of witnesses over and over
as if we might have been lying when we said “I do”
the first time in a civil union in Vermont.
That didn’t really count in a Carolina court.
We repeated vows in Arkansas, for our friends,
and Mom and Dad who unable to affirm the first time–
could be present, give their blessing.
Now here we are again.
This time the State will back us up
as if that made loving legal, which I guess it does,
and I do want that, I do.
But let me say this to you, too:
I never minded all those years as love bandits,
stealing kisses, secret handholds in the dark.
We acted out “I do” long before we got the State to listen.
“I do” promise to love you, to stand by you
when the world will not. I would go to jail for you,
stand outside your sick room, waiting,
while all those who could not love you, all of a sudden do,
and I, who did and do, wait and watch and pray for you.
I do willingly take turns washing dishes, scoop the poop,
vacuum, cook, shop—which I know you like to do
alone, because I take so long, but then I do 
insist we share. I do
love you like the mountains, that old metaphor
but still steadfast, unmoving, in every season beautiful,
never going anywhere.
I love you like the last red leaf, frosted, hanging long
before it drops to leave us lying in the dying day.
I do love you now, and then, and again and again
and nobody can ever change the simple fact
that love outlasts the law.
I do want to step with you into the light of a legal day,
get that marriage license framed and hang
it up where everyone can see me say, “I do.”
I do love you just enough to let the bandit go,
the one who stole your kisses, your heart, your clothes
when nobody said we could, but so?
We did it then and we still do.
The State can say whatever, but I declared it 14 years ago,
“I do,” and these same witnesses affirm
those vows bound you to me and me to you.
We have been faithful, not because some law said we should
or a messy divorce might ensue
but simply because we wanted to.
We knew we would be when we said “I do.”
Finally, here is the moment we have not been waiting for
which I never expected to happen in my lifetime
when I started this outlaw life some 40 years ago.
I have mixed feelings I admit, but not about you.
For you, my love, I’d do anything, everything
over and over and over again and you know it’s true
because I do. I do. I do.
 
Mendy Knott Nov. 3, 2014
 
 
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2 Comments

  • Mendy, that is tremendous. Thank you so much for sharing this. (Have you considered submitting this to Crone magazine? Their theme is Friends & Companions next issue. I think it would be a great fit).

  • Wow.