The snow crochets patterns on her grey hair
Jewels her eyelashes
Emancipates a girlish laugh from the long past
when chubby legs trailed an aunt in Winter aisles
Crunching Mt Lofty’s leaves underfoot
Clarified cold air nipped her cheeks
Snow crystals colliding with bits of dirt
(Not a blizzard she recalls but a traffic hazard)
Beautiful and precise—a complex synchrony
Full of fire and ice
Knitting the potential for the miraculous into her life
She is the lighter sleeper. Woken by the cat padding on the pillow, wanting food at 5:45, then the dog yowling to be let out.
She rises to make breakfast, stepping clumsily into Ugg boots. Trying not to over balance—either in her morning clumsiness or because of the cat now twisting around her legs.
He has decided it’s his job to empty the dishwasher. But each morning, she says, “No, no, leave it to me, you’re tired.” He protests once more, then collapses back with a sigh that says, “I love you.”
He asks how she slept. Was she comfortable? Did her pain keep her awake? What were her dreams? He doesn’t sound bored when she recites them. And in this she knows he loves her.
“I don’t know how you do it, Darling. You get the tea the proper temperature, the toast the proper temperature. It’s just right.” When she’s interstate for work, he says on the phone, “I couldn’t get it right.” And she knows that means he loves her.
He drives when they’re out together. Fills her car with diesel, checks the windscreen fluid and tyre pressure.
She’s a physicist. She reads the Iliad in Latin. Lived through the great depression. But her nieces say, “You can’t be happy. Aren’t you angry at the way he treats you?” They pity her stupidity; they read Google, see therapists, watch Ellen.
For the 41 years they have been married she has made him eggs and bacon on Sunday mornings. He’s never said he prefers his eggs soft and the bacon crispier. He’s never said, “If you buy eggs by the dozen, they’re cheaper,” and, “Why do you get them from Coles when the local butcher has such good specials?”
“I love you,” he said when he proposed.
And every day she knows.