Ring and chain (a dream of Valparaiso)
Take this ring to keep, my love;
Wear it when you will:
On your breast when at work,
Around your neck when alone
Or when entwined with me.
Take it off when you’re wistful;
When pricked with panic,
Slip it on again.
Take this chain to keep, my love.
Wrap it round your wrist.
Twist it, braid it with the keys
You carry through the day.
Take this ring and chain, my love.
Hold them in your palm.
Wince (or smile) when recollecting
How they came to you:
I was naked, on my knees,
You had dressed and turned to go.
Stop, I said, it isn’t over;
No, you said, it is, or should be ...
"I love you!" we said both together
And laughed and blushed—at loss for words.
I love you, you recovered, but ...
“But” doesn’t matter, was my answer,
Keep your life, your years, your hours,
Give me minutes that are ours
If that’s all you have to give.
That’s not fair to you, my love, you said,
You need more than I can give.
I need only you, I said,
I’d choke on more that wasn’t you.
Keep this ring, then, until the time
That my brave words cross swords with yours
And you leave me where you found me, wrecked.
And when you leave me, take this ring and chain
And drop them in the sea.
Keep this ring and chain until I call
To say that you were right,
That I needed you but also someone
To talk to on the lonely nights.
Someone ordinary maybe, quiet like you: brave
Like you, intelligent, like you
Loyal and devoted, like you—
But to me always present.
And in that case take this ring and chain
And drop them in the sea
The sand will swallow them before you turn for home.
Keep this ring and chain until the day
When we wake entangled,
When we walk through one single door—
In and out and in again—
When we sit at one simple table
Watch one same tossing sea,
See the same wheeling gulls,
The same approaching rain.