How Have We Come So Far on Earth? (50th) —by Jinny Batterson
(Many years ago, we started the custom of a poem on our wedding anniversary. The poetry hasn’t improved all that much; the marriage has somehow endured…)
In retrospect, so much can seem inevitable:
The ungainly bag of holly and pine boughs,
The welcoming seat at the front of the bus,
The glib blond guy with the Paul Bunyan
Glasses frames. The letter to “Jennifer”
With the correct postal address at my dorm.
The college-based courtship. That magic
Summer in Montreal. The horses across
The fence our first dew-drenched dawn
Along the road east toward the Gaspé.
Our newlyweds’ apartment near Hopkins,
The night we watched the progress
Of pedestrians first dodging, then
Accepting the thunderstorm’s drenching.
Trying to make the Nearings’ rural dream our
Own, though rank novices in needed skills.
Buying a lakeside cabin at a divorce-sale
Price. Uprooting to northern Virginia and
A hellish teaching term. Stitching ourselves
Back together while riding Fred the red pickup
Along the mighty Mississippi to New Orleans.
Two children born of love and post-Watergate
Fervor. The friendly Richmond neighbors who
Salved the silly white liberals aiming to
Dismantle racism double-handedly.
The Servas adventures, both as hosts and
As travelers. The travails of drug-infested inner
City living. The trophy house and garden.
The long-term live-ins: Chinese, then Japanese.
The mid-life lump, the reconfiguring of later priorities:
Less career focus, more service, more travel.
China tourism, China teaching, China by plane, by bus,
By rail, by camel, by motorcycle, by bamboo raft.
Wondering at scenery, food, sometimes strange
Similarities with America. The sooner-than-expected
Grandchild. Relocating to North Carolina just
In time for its next slide into regressive politics.
The Wenchuan earthquake, beginnings of recovery.
Reaching our milestone three score and ten with
Most body parts still functional, grieving for those who’ve
Already departed the planet. Scant chance we’ll have
Another fifty years, but determination to treasure the
Highs and lows of the together times that remain.
Happy anniversary to the accidental/inevitable
Love of my life. Love, Jinny