As if God’s future thundered on my past.
—Elizabeth Barrett Browning

I. Our eleventh year—you change and haven’t changed. We multiply. You gave me a daughter, twice, and we mature, familiar and strange. Remember that premarital advice your aunt and uncle gave us when we asked? Have fun, a sense of humor. Be flexible. Watching you make the bed, I crane to catch your moves and make myself the spectacle. Do I pin you down, or up, or misconstrue when I lift from Hawthorne, Ovid, Homer? I poach the heart that fed the courtiers: Miss Blue, My Windblown Dove, my Flame in Flames. You approach, seem tame, but vanish among two streams. The stealth. Amanuensis, I call you Mine Own Self. II. Amanuensis, I call you Mine Own Self and see my odd reflection in the gems I polish. Pity me, who cannot help a crown besmeared with prints despite attempts to keep my hand away. I fly to craft when I should kiss your subtle feet. Pardon the art, the work I think I do, and laugh at me, the old class clown from kindergarten. By now you know by heart, O quick apprentice, my act, my audience. At the kitchen sink you stand there washing vegetables, a tempest in your hands and in your hair the stars. Your ink- blue, lawless eyes draw me. Sweet drink, command this desert wanderer who wants your hand. III. —Draw me. We will run after Thee. The desert wanderers who wanted your hand, those brawling, coarse slang-mongers...poets past and present missing you, bring gifts like a band of suitors wealthiest with want. At last, my brother-measurers who toil to make you swoon would better offer up white rice. Because they long to honor you, let them take as recompense our rose-strewn cake, a slice. Those smilers cannot look into the sun without a screen. I’d rather be blinded and let you lead me by the hand, undone like an exiled man who loses life to find it, while the minor, major, and the jealous wonder. Other people are the world’s width asunder. IV. Other people are the world’s width asunder. We practice love the God of nature taught us, and put the other first, above, both under- standing at last that I’m your Deodatus, studied in the Song of Songs and Texas, the right hand here, the left beneath your head, my thirsty kisses circling like a necklace to your doves of eyes, your fawns on lilies fed. Nobody ever had a wife but me. And nobody a husband save my Dove. Fall on my eyes, wildflower of purity, Cosmos. Now help me understand how Love has her own omniscient form which I pretend. To gain the wind’s perspective, I ascend. V. Away To gain the wind’s perspective, I ascend to the topmast of a salt ship, would rather leap and break my neck than write as if an end of you existed. It seems as if a sheet of paper might be the veil dividing us, a sail, my ordinary life head-long, so perfectly untrammeled as it is. Why rhyme, or measure black, white, weak and strong? The treeless, fierce-sunshining, irksome lanes of the plains like oceans break my aspirations. Where are those tender anxieties, when you leaned on my arm and needed its superfluous care? I’d come down from this rigging’s highest rung if I could know your name in every tongue. VI. If I could know your name in every tongue, I might be satisfied, hushed, stillness ours. Have not the moments of our marriage sung in those substantial and most silent hours? In Heaven there will be no metric nonsense, labored and artificial, no pronouns minced. We are already one another’s conscience. Your verb’s auxiliary, I am convinced it’s happiness to need you, equally pervading presence and an absence. Possessed by your name’s rise and fall, the quality which is and is not you, I’ll weave a nest: a natural crown for you to dwell on, proud mockingbird, my poetry aloud. VII. Mockingbird, my poetry aloud in your voice sounds me, like me, and the chaste Penelope, the queen of a theft allowed and more dear mirror, most at home. Chased and caught by no one else, thou, unforgettablest pedestaled, understood, the very sight of wilderness, change me, beloved blessed with vehement and faithful love. Kiss, cite these precious next two words: I’m home. I traveled to return. Here, lie down, rest. I’ll make the bed next time. Our home is shipshape, hungry for a mess. The rest? You’re my couplet met, familiar love still strange in our eleventh year. You change but have not changed.

JOHN POCH is a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Barcelona in Spring 2014. His book, Fix Quiet, won the New Criterion Poetry Prize and will be published near the end of 2014 by St. Augustine’s Press. He teaches at Texas Tech University.