Dante Di Stefano

Paper Anniversary

Marriage is a new way of telling time

against chronology. It is the end

of please rewritten in indigo ink

on the tip of our tongues. It is how thanks

will paint all of the hospital walls blue

in our newborn dreams of dying alone.

It is light that stags the doe in transit

through the underbrush and brings her to still

herself at the snapped twigs scrunched underfoot.

It is bunny hop and a pocket watch

that will travel through dresser drawers unused

until one day it finds itself become

heirloom and shining. It is a promise

that calls into question the visible

colors of the ultraviolet spectrum.

It cattails the breeze in marshland evenings

and smacks the warble out of the red-winged

blackbird’s beak that serenades our footsteps.

It is, in fact, done with all serenades,

all indigos, all vaults and vestibules

of autumns reimagined on leaf stems.

It’s as useful as knowing how to change

a car battery or a toilet’s chain.

It is the most unromantic knowledge

of the greening need at the heart of so

much aging ahead. It’s: “I no longer

mind cleaning the bathroom sink tonight.”

It’s you switching your toothpaste brand to mine

without hesitation. It’s the word help

become holy, memorized as a prayer.

It’s what most outwalks us when we walk out

the door together into days laddered,

like the fine blue lines on loose leaf paper,

with the things we are supposed to do now

that we are who we are supposed to be.

Brass Band Epithalamion >>

Dante Di Stefano earned his PhD in creative writing from SUNY at Binghamton. His poetry and essays have appeared recently in The Writer’s Chronicle, Shenandoah, Brilliant Corners, and elsewhere. He was the winner of the Thayer Fellowship in the Arts, the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award, the Ruth Stone Poetry Prize, the Phyllis Smart-Young Prize in Poetry, the Bea González Prize in Poetry, and an Academy of American Poets College Prize.