I am the man who cried out and knew,
that first day, I would stay with you,
that even my anger never stood a chance.
You were water rinsing crusted blood
from the stone altar where a chieftain
held a young boy’s heart up to the sun.
I knew I loved you, and I said so then.
But how I love you now makes that a lie.
Image: “Seeing Red” by Richard Greene, licensed under CC 2.0
Richard Hoffman: This is a poem that reflects on a long marriage. I called it a “song” because it arose all at once as a swelling of emotion just sitting in a room one evening with my spouse. Hardly any of my poems arrive that way, unbidden and entire. It is an expression of profound appreciation and gratitude. Implicit in the poem is the notion that although love changes in character over time, its intensity remains and, in fact, even grows. I have written plenty about the violence inflicted on me as a boy, but here I don’t want to translate the figures of the poem into documentary or memoir. I wrote the poem in wonder, in amazement at my good fortune to be partnered with such a strong and beautiful person.