Three poems by Mike Alfred

Now I can tell you …

I can tell you that our marriage
was one of your great creations,
a complete existence but so silent
and modest, I seldom noticed.

I can tell you that our marriage,
such a splendid journey, provided
a way of being, an enchanted life,
a completeness now so fractured.

I wonder where Maslow slotted
a good marriage into his hierarchy
of human seeking? After all, it’s one
of life’s greatest challenges; something
to be placed at the apex of achievement.
Perhaps he didn’t think it as important
as making money or being President.
Good Housekeeping doesn’t list
the Top Hundred Marriages.

I can tell you that you bequeathed
me a solidity. You ushered me, callow
youth, into an adulthood where
I function with care, restraint and
learnings from your laughter and
your generous human wisdom.

Tea and cake

Two fading business friends, meet
now and then, over coffee and cake.
They no longer talk business which
has lost all fascination. Their talk
involves reading and writing, a life
ignored. One day, they both confess
that they really wanted to be Ernest
Hemingway; one for the fame, one
for the lifestyle. Neither considered
the writing: the blocks, the blanks, the
black despair, the critics, merciless. But
then they acknowledge the shotgun, that
hopeless end, and return to tea and cake.

As in: he was a man who had to have a woman.

So you’re the woman he had to have?
[The extra room is built and furnished.]
Did you allow him to have to have you?
[The grass is beginning to grow again.]
Are you the sort, a man who has to have
a woman, has to have? He was there and
you, you were there. There was music
and dancing, so you danced, and you hardly
invented talking, but you used it well, and
walking, too. [The double bed is soft and warm.]
Yes, he’s a man who needs a woman. You’re
not the sort who has to have a man, beyond
a need to be needed. Was it Kismet, you were
there and he was there. You, stirring an adoration
he can’t fully explain; you, with the gorgeous
eyes, you, the figure among the trees and the
clay vessels. You, the woman who sold her
flat and transferred the cutlery. He was
a man who needed a woman and you,
could you have been anyone else, any
other longing, any other neediness?

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