Marriage Quartet – on the Occasion of Our 38th Anniversary




Look behind the chair – the yellow one.
Or check under the Wall Street Journal on the coffee table,
or look on the ledge above the kitchen sink.

If only you would leave it on your finger,
Twirling and spinning it, tossing it into the air
or worse, clunking it on the floor.

You’d think after 38 years
you wouldn’t fuss with that ring.

I barely notice mine,
but yours is alive, dancing on and off your finger.


I. First Anniversary

Gino’s deep dish pizzeria, heart of Chicago’s Rush Street.
Double cheese, double sausage, extra sauce. No garlic.
Jukebox sweet sings Seals and Croft’s Summer Breeze
Later, a six-pack of Old Style for you and tequila for me,
Oak Street beach, the surf of Lake Michigan, background music.

“Be careful crossing Lake Shore Drive.”

II. The Fourteenth

Macaroni and cheese from that blue cardboard box
Single carrot sticks, whines of protest, ranch dressing.
Dripping candles, globs of wax on chocolate cupcakes,
burnt and lop-sided, smeared thick with frosting.
Raffi thumping out This Little Light of Mine.

“You kids stop kicking each other this minute and I mean it.”

III. The Thirty-First

White Riesling from organic growers in California
Eight grain bread warm, drizzled with Porcini Olive Oil and Parmesan
Smoked salmon and fresh dill, Asian pears.
George Winston playing Sweet Soul on the keys.
Something new – the house quiet, the children in college and beyond.

“Let’s call it an early evening.”

IV. The Thirty Eighth

Steak and pineapples on the grill.
A twilight walk around Sticker’s Pond, the rain passed through.
You study remodeling plans for your wish list kitchen;
I process photographs from my adventure in Escalante.
If you think after 38 years, we know the secrets of a long, happy marriage,
you’d be both wrong and right.

“Full moon tonight. Wish upon a moon?”



Ma said I was borrowing trouble

when I married poor –
“can’t buy bread with love”

and married young –
“not old enough to keep your nose clean”

when I married the wrong guy –
“what will the neighbors say?”

got married by the wrong preacher –
“what will God in heaven say?”

I went on ahead, paid her no mind, said my “I do’s” proud,
and the money I saved by borrowing trouble
— and not buying it outright –
paid for my dress and the band and his white dancing shoes.



Our first Christmas we spent the last money on rent and
kerosene for the space heater, and took the last dollars
from the envelope marked Savings.

Skipped lunch the day before Christmas Eve, and
rode the el into the Loop, squeezed through the Marshall Fields shopping frenzy,
searched, fumbling and fretting,
finally chose a tiny comb in tortoiseshell,
so you might groom your mustache –
a fad that year, mustache combs.

You, the number cruncher,
fashioned a love sonnet in awkward meter,
rolled the cheap typing paper like precious parchment,
and tied it with ribbon from Woolworth’s.

The comb’s now jumbled in your jewelry box
with antique silver cuff-links
and your grandfather’s gold watch fob.

I keep that worn sheet of fresh promise
with birth certificates and old mortgage papers
tied with a faded deep blue ribbon,
now the color of a desert sky.


I wrote this poem quite a few years ago, and updated it for today in honor of our 38th wedding Anniversary – a testament to the strength of commitment and love, in good times and in bad, in flow and in transition. Honoring our anniversary, Sherpa.

Note: Please let it be known that this is memoir poetry, and as such, it is not 100% accurate. (Pretty close though!)

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. Many memories – some fresh, some faded.
    I loved you when we married, and I love you today. Happy Anniversary.

  2. Poignant, honest and so authentic. I love your memoir poetry, Bo. Happy Anniversary, Bo and Sherpa!

  3. What a beautiful post – Happy Anniversary! xx

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