The candle had burned on through the night,
it, the guitar and the chair
there on that balcony the whole time.
And in that softened night,
in the magic of that light,
there were no sharp edges left to hurt them:
I saw a young man, all optimism and faith
made radiant by the glad bride beside him.
And she—beautiful as she was,
adorned as she was
in the gown lovingly stitched by her mother—
was made more beautiful by the crown that she wore,
the belief that they were doing God’s will.
And it seemed to me then
that in that softened light
they had danced that last night
to the strands of the silent guitar,
all the noise left now far behind them.
I closed the door and the candle quietly puffed out.
First off, this story is perfectly true. When we (the boys and I) lived in Kansas City, Skip, my best friend then, and I used to sit out on the balcony of our apartment at night a lot…me smoking (don’t worry, I’ve long since quit) and the both of us playing our guitars late into the night.
I was at the time grappling with the idea of what to do about my first marriage. My wife and I were separated and she wanted to try and reunite, but I was struggling with what was the right thing to do. Skip, may God bless him forever, was doing what good friends should do but often lack the wisdom, skill and empathy to do well: helping me work through the process with grace, courage and honesty.
At the end, I clearly remember this one night, getting up and wondering what the glow was on the balcony. Opening the door, I realized that I had left the candle that was out there burning all night. Why, I do not know to this day: but the softness of that still life image of the chair, the guitar and the candle in the murky dark suddenly froze a final decision in me and I knew that, despite all the hope and effort with which it was started, my marriage was over.
And thus it was.
Thank you for reading In that softened light. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.
© 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2013 by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com.