for Sarah Ambrose and Alan Haxton
Biggleswade, England, January 17, 2019
Athens, Georgia, June 8, 2019
Are the years so short? We blink
and decades fly. How nimbly
the little ones move through our lives
to catch their world in stride.
Hers was a world of neighborhood lawns,
small dogs and swing sets,
story books strewn on sofas and chairs,
teddy bears piled in pillow forts.
It was slippery slides in the summertime,
long firefly evenings with friends,
dancing to oldies on Daddy’s arm,
riding shotgun with Mama out to the farm.
There were sunny beaches running with cousins,
tidal flats at island’s end,
plastic buckets brimming with shells,
elaborate castles dug in the sand.
From holding hands while hopping waves
to body surfing with uncles and aunts
and twilight strolls along the strand
under a technicolor sky.
And those long night drives
cocooned in the car’s back seat
hurling up the highway to a house
bursting with grand-baby love –
blue silky snuggles on Grandma’s lap,
going on a bear hunt camped on a couch,
Grandpa reading on Christmas Eve,
cookies for Santa next to the tree.
Sometimes in unguarded moments
a daughter’s daddy idly dreams
about his little girl’s groom-to-be –
what grounds his life today?
He was a boy of Bedfordshire,
child of the gentle English terrain,
a quiet toddler with dimples and smiles,
best pals with fur-brother, Buster.
The sweetest smell of childhood
was the scent of grease on overalls
and boiler-room suits worn by his dad.
He hugged those legs every day at the door.
His husband-potential was praised at four.
This earnest, curious, nursery-school boy
grew into comics and colorful jokes
which he shared for giggles with Mum.
There were hours of play at the skatepark.
This youth tattooed with amazing bruises
manned up enough for a pink guitar,
strumming riffs in a grunge-rock band.
They hit the road in a family car
crammed with amps and drums
and dreams, four gangly teens
driven to gigs by a mum.
When he ran, he aimed for marathons
and found his pace in life.
He became the grown-up go-to kid,
the one who never lets you down.
The odds were always astronomical.
A thousand synchronies seemed to converge
on that ugly-jumper Christmas bash.
Neither came costumed, but he made her laugh
then assumed the role of ambassador,
guide to the culture of pub-quiz nights
and cozy board-game evenings with friends.
He even ate vegetarian.
And so they became a couple.
There were pancake dinners in Biggleswade
and King’s Cross breakfast dates,
goofy humor and, somehow, ducks.
And those long, loping countryside runs
through a green English spring
on small lanes and forest paths
ending with afternoon tea.
For her, it took an Englishman
with dimples, scruff, and easy grin.
For him, the grace of a big-city girl
grown out of the college-town South.
In this is the founding of households –
every day to love anew. The old
will glisten again with the dew,
the spent and withered will bloom,
and the love that grounded your childhood,
the love that united your lives
will incline your hearts to happiness.
Wherever you dwell will be home.