Literary Hook: A Valentine’s poem that celebrates love and commitment

By Christine Swanberg
Author and Poet

Here is a poem in the spirit of Valentine’s Day (which was Feb. 14), celebrating long-term love and commitment.

The Rings of Saturn

After seeing the rings of Saturn through binoculars

from a balmy bluff in Indian Summer,

the Milky Way’s vast sweep of stars and nebulae,

the dusky dome where no city lights intrude,

after dreaming that we skated on the rings

of Saturn, red and black ice,

the celestial overpass, where no one honks;

in that unencumbered silence, it is enough

to wake, blue and ornery,

forget our daily affirmations,

have a second cup of hot, black coffee

out of the old, wheel-thrown ringed mug.

It is enough to iron in the cold basement,

spray starch on cotton, glide through domestic wrinkles,

your bleached white shirt which I prepare for you

like bread, over and over.

It is enough to fold white underwear,

warm and soft as dough—

this private ritual for nearly 40 years,

for better or for worse.

Well, it’s mostly better, isn’t it?

We grow old skating under Saturn,

making the most of our blue, imperfect planet.

Voyagers 1 and 2. Yet in these rings of years

we keep the fire of a life imagined well.

The future swells like steam from coffee mugs.

Our old wedding bands with gold and silver strata

carve their callous rings around our fingers.

First published in Poetswest, then in Who Walks Among the Trees with Charity (Wind Publications) and The Red Lacquer Room (Chiron Press).

Christine Swanberg has published about 300 poems in 70 journals and anthologies. An interview with her appears in the 2008 Poet’s Market. She is available for mentoring through Jane’s Stories Foundation. Part of her mentoring is suggesting possible journals. She teaches writing at The Clearing in Door County, Wisconsin, and gives workshops and readings thoughout the United States.

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