Waiting Up
I am waiting up for you, waiting like wood 
for your heavy, particular stress on the stairs, 
for the metal that fits your key 
and the knob that knows 
the exact turning warmth of your hand. 
Here you are, still coming home to me, 
to our bed, to the touch of this life, 
red dawn breaking from gray clouds in the same 
window each morning. You’ve been my life, 
I admit, for as long as I can bear 
to sit in the middle of this moment, waiting 
for the smell of your wild black hair, 
and your eyes, slippery, live brown coffee beans, 
and your cheeks, cold from the fog 
over the midnight bridge. 
There was a time in the car when we fought 
and screamed, and it poured deafening sheets of rain. 
There was forgiveness, like sudden, unexpected quiet, 
after which the rain starts up again, but more gently; 
like all the stories from my childhood 
that you learned by heart 
so I could forget them 
if I wanted to, so I could rest 
a moment and feel the future 
carry us along, swift current under our canoe. 
The river was no dream. 
I still remember showing you 
the place where lady-slippers 
hid themselves in the northern 
woods, and how often you crossed 
the slippery falls to bring me back 
something I needed. There is that 
to keep, and the rest to let go. 
There was the long conversation 
I thought would end differently. 
There was the whole dream, unbroken in the water. 
There is still the water, there is always the water.