Then all the moments of the past began to line up behind that moment.” — Billy Collins
One of the things I admire most about poet Billy Collins is the way he mines the ordinary for beauty, then renders a moment of art. In “This Much I Do Remember,” he recalls a tender moment that most couples relate to: the leisurely hour at the dinner table after a good meal has been shared. Given the way he depicts the woman in the poem, I’m guessing she’s his wife of many years.
I can’t help but fight tears every time I read it. It underscores the familiar comfort of a longtime relationship, reminding me of my own marriage.
With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, I’m reminded, too, that true love can’t be fully expressed (or measured) in gifts of jewelry or flowers or expensive chocolates. It’s all about the quality of the everyday moments we share. Wishing you all a happy Valentines Day! — CL
This Much I Do Remember
By Billy Collins
It was after dinner.
You were talking to me across the table
about something or other,
a greyhound you had seen that day
or a song you liked,
and I was looking past you
over your bare shoulder
at the three oranges lying
on the kitchen counter
next to the small electric bean grinder,
which was also orange,
and the orange and white cruets for vinegar and oil.
All of which converged
into a random still life,
so fastened together by the hasp of color,
and so fixed behind the animated
foreground of your
talking and smiling,
gesturing and pouring wine,
and the camber of your shoulders
that I could feel it being painted within me,
brushed on the wall of my skull,
while the tone of your voice
lifted and fell in its flight,
and the three oranges
remained fixed on the counter
the way the stars are said
to be fixed in the universe.
Then all the moments of the past
began to line up behind that moment
and all the moments to come
assembled in front of it in a long row,
giving me reason to believe
that this was a moment I had rescued
from the millions that rush out of sight
into a darkness behind the eyes.
Even after I have forgotten what year it is,
my middle name,
and the meaning of money,
I will still carry in my pocket
the small coin of that moment,
minted in the kingdom
that we pace through every day.
–From Picnic, Lightning, by Billy Collins, University of Pittsburgh Press; 1998–