On Valentine’s

Heart Out of the Box

On Valentine’s

I tell him that a friend has told her son
just to put her in a room
with paper and glue
but I don’t make collages,
so he should stick to the stones.

He says,
“what if I just smother you?”
I think for a second, washing potatoes,
then say, “no, I don’t think smothering
would be good,”
and he says, “what if I smother you
with love?” sending
his best crooked smile, but I, paying it no mind,
pour the potatoes in a sieve, then douse them
with water, then, as a stream pours down
the cabinet–”look, see
what I mean–”

“You were just distracted,” he says,
“talking about me smothering you–you had them near
the sink,” and I say, “no, I actually forgot
it was a sieve,”
and he shrugs and I wipe the floor,
trying to console myself with the fact
that there wasn’t that much
water, and say, “no, you shouldn’t
smother me; that would seem
so aggressive,”
and he says, “you think?”
“It might upset me,” I say, “the last thing I see being
you smothering me,”
and he says, “I’m not
going to smother you,”
and I say, “just put the stones
in my pockets and aim me
for the pond–it would be
like a game,” but he
is doing the crossword now,
and I’m pretty sure can’t be counted on
even for the stones.


I couldn’t resist posting this as a second poem for my prompt on With Real Toads, about promises. The above is a not-very-good photograph of a light sculpture by my dear husband, Jason Martin. 

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28 Comments on “On Valentine’s”

  1. I. So. Adore. This!!!!!!! “Just put the stones in my pocket and aim me for the pond.” Tell him it might be good to show you The Hours, first. LOL. I adore women’s humor! We are such a hoot!

  2. brian miller Says:

    shoot, when my time comes just point me toward the woods and kiss me goodbye…i will go find a bear to curl up with…ha…
    stones in the pocket…yikes..i would not like to go out drowning…

  3. Wow, and you went all Virginia Woolf in the end. . . nicely done.

  4. what a wonderful way to drive the poem forward toward that end with stones in the pocket. The togetherness can be quite smothering sometimes. I think I would have helped with the potatoes though..

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Ha. My husband helps a ton, actually does most of the cooking! I used to cook a great deal, but have somehow done too much of it in my life, and just don’t so much anymore. But a very good point! k.

  5. Polly Says:

    Most excellent 🙂

  6. Kerry O'Connor Says:

    This kind of promise requested from a loved one pushes all considerations aside, except for the whole question of how far one would go to give the loved one ultimate escape from pain. I greatly admire those who can provide the stones, or any other means out of this world when necessity demands a dignified end, knowing that I could never do it myself.

  7. hedgewitch Says:

    These are not the familiar lover’s questions or promises, and yet, in so many ways, they are almost deeper, more needed. They also explore rather starkly the limits of love as we age, and the changing quality of what we need from the other, and from ourselves. Really, I found this chilling, and I also feel that the things I want to ask will be too much, too hard, and that I will need to find a way to make sure for myself that they are done. The smothering! What an image, what a metaphor, (so much so the sieve becomes very subtle, really) and how rational the discussion, where even Wolfeian promises of stones are a comfort not to be had. Really excellent, k–you are on a roll of late.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Ha–thanks–I meant it to be humorous, but I do understand the other side, of course–it was interesting as I did the other one first, Ode to Morning, in one of those moments where I had nothing to write but felt I had to write something for the prompt, so I started with just that idea of Ode again, and was very happy that it led somewhere–then this one,much more on point, came later. k.

  8. This made me think of the book “Still Alice” (because she made a plan about how to end it). The indignity of old age and dementia is what I think of as I read this though the lighthearted (but serious) banter gives it a little sweetness.

  9. Mama Zen Says:

    This feels so real and wry and funny and touching. Life, in a nutshell, I guess.

  10. ZQ Says:

    haha bitter/sweet 🙂

  11. Susan Chast Says:

    Poor child! it’s hard enough that we die, but when we need their help–when they have permission to help? I’m not sure they can handle the emotions or the freedom!

  12. Kim Nelson Says:

    You touch deeply with this amazingly crafted exchange. Nearly all of us have loved one afflicted with dementia or Alzheimer’s. This seems a believable desire, given such circumstances.

  13. Marian Says:

    I did experience this as humorous and loving, but the undercurrent with the stones–stoning–stoned is a dark one, and one that resonates, for sure. Very astute. Also, I am totally capable of draining the potatoes directly onto the floor. 🙂

  14. This is such a nuanced piece. Full of affection but also there’s a dark undercurrent. Loved it Thanks.

    Greetings from London.

  15. My husband and I will learn how much “togetherness” we can bear when he retires next year. I love the intimacy with a twist of dark in this piece!

  16. ellaedge Says:

    I, too understand this smothering! My husband took a few days off and the power went out-a transformer blew. A sieve of emotion captured so well~

  17. margaret Says:

    ““the last thing I see being
    you smothering me,””

    I laughed at that. A very serious topic though. I fear pain, but yet I think life is birth and death and to cheat either scares me a bit. I follow an interesting blog – Mundane Faithfulness – a woman who is trying to embrace Grace and embrace her dying of cancer. Initially the blog started out as her journey to conquer this cancer, I’m sure. But, it is now about something else entirely. I find it interesting and a powerful testimony to not ending one’s life on their own terms. Not sure where I stand exactly – I fear pain, but … it has given me a lot to think about.

  18. M Says:

    Sorry for having been scarce. Looking forward to catching up, if that’s ever possible in this blogosphere.

    I carry old stones around in my pockets, too, and suppose I put them there myself. Isn’t that the way it always happens, though? ~

  19. I love how this line, “so he should stick to the stones” brings to mind that old saying…I don’t know if it was intentional but any way…yeah, I wouldn’t want to go out that way either.

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