I figure four times, you make it five
that we’ve been married.
The ceremonies shorten. For the first
my father chopped a branch of apple tree
and made an indoor bower where we stood,
me in white, you in terror
before the Justice of the Peace we hired
from the phone book, and your uneasy kin.
The next rites went unwitnessed.
Faithless in small ways, if faithful in large,
we’d rupture quickly, you’d mend fast,
I in a longer siege of silence.
We’d recommit with fewer words.
Learning to forgive you
began my own atonement.
I thought we would survive,
but without love.
That we survived was love.