Winter is the time of my content and I want to tell the world.
There are four women who have made me the lucky guy I am. First is she who breathes alchemical air creating sparks and charging the space between us. Second is the youngest woman I’ve ever known who lives daily with astonishment. Third is the one who inhabits caves, ancient and her own interior landscape. Last is the woman who has gifted me with love and the opportunity to love back. They are all Peggy Aylsworth Levine.
She is a most remarkable person. Peggy still laughs at my jokes. She cooks a world-class fried cauliflower. She designs jewelry, has written a children’s album recorded by the Modernaires, done 66 collage books, dozens of Joseph Cornell-like boxes, plus the covers of my two blog books. And these are not the only reason I married her.
Every morning she writes a poem with 54 of them, so far, accepted for publication this year alone. In her 92nd year she is at the height of her creative power. She sees wide across years and into deep pools. Her poems are lyrical and imagistic with a palette of language that stretches and leaps across chasms. She’ll take a headline, an overheard conversation, a photo and make of it a poem. A dog-walker, scrap of a dream, a garbage truck and an odd word can become a soufflé-poem rising.
Her poems are not just a special talent; they are a natural extension of the way she meets the world. Her doors are open wide. If life seems closed she finds a seam through which to enter … and if there are no doors or windows she walks through the walls.
There is an unshakeable optimism she glows with whose illumination I’ve come to rely upon. It is a light-source from within having dwelled in her own dark caverns and found their spring. It comes hard-earned. Orphaned at eight she came to rely not only on the kindness of strangers but the strange unfathomable resources she possessed to find her way.
Find is the key word. Peggy is a finder / founder. She seeks and knows when she’s arrived, not as an end-point but a destination itself in which every step is worth the wonder. The hunter gathers. The questioner finds answers, however partial, which raise new questions. It takes a certain faith to stop driving, examine the stump, the peeling bark, reptilian roots at our feet, the calligraphy of bare branches, congealed light in a drop of rain.
Sometimes things are too close to be seen. In this elongated twilight I am able to take an essential step back and assess my good fortune; how these past near 29 years together have been both a lifetime and a wink. The gift of love works both ways, to see and be seen, to receive love and be emotionally naked feeling myself fully received, entering into a safe unknown. Our love taps into shuttered rooms and fills vacancies. We care-take each other, choreograph the steps of leading and yielding and when we can’t or won’t budge, laugh about it.
Having said all this I feel there is something more which is unsayable, an essence that eludes words. Each of us retains a mysterious core better left alone. Our love sanctifies It and in that way creates a third entity also beyond articulation.
We write in the same room and there are long silences between us to be cherished. Paper rustling, pencil sharpened, curses at the computer, tea brought in when the kettle calls. Love is in the sensing of each other’s pace, mood, when to not speak….and when to speak as I am now.