With thanks to the author, Charles W. Pratt, and to his publisher, Hobblebush Books, as well as to Garrison Keillor's The Writer's Almanac.
for my son
Trying to think of something useful
To say about marriage, I remember
A morning when I was twenty-plus,
Self-absorbed in my tinny pink
Renault Dauphine, my Little Toot,
And I tried to get by a tank-truck on
A bendy road too briefly straight.
Shuddering, pedal floored, my frivolous
Vessel leveled with the cab
Like a pilot fish by a shark’s grim grille.
Then there was a car ahead of us
And, as I tried to floor a pedal
Already on the floor, the blue
Of ice I hadn’t seen. Spinning
Toward the implacable hugeness of the cab, looking up
Into the eyes of the truckdriver, I felt
Only the sweet certainty of
Submission, call it love, as if
Already I had left myself and could look
Down with the driver’s godlike and loving
Eyes at a comical pink Dauphine
Sliding backwards down the road, then spinning
Again and into a snowbank, tilted
Against a tree. One flat tire
And a dent in the roof I pushed out myself.
I made it to work on time. Because
The truckdriver had seen the oncoming car
Before I had, had seen the patch of blue
And had slowed to let me by, I met
And married your mother, and you were born
And have grown up to meet and marry, and I
Have begun to understand the blind
Release of self to the will of another
And the answering wise, dispassionate
Restraint of the merger we call marriage.
"The Merger" by Charles W. Pratt from The Box Marked "Some are Missing." © Hobblebush Books, 2010.