Category Archives: relationships

Read to the End–newly rediscovered poem

Forty-seven years ago May 25 fell on a Saturday (Memorial weekend) and Stephen and I got married at Queen of Peace Church. It was 3 weeks after my graduation from the University of Michigan and 1 week after his first year law school final exams. We were both 22 years old. We were so glad to be together we held onto each other and grinned through most of the ceremony. Even after this pandemic year, that is still true.

Here is a recently rediscovered poem from 21 years ago. When I read it to Stephen he didn’t remember the incident, but really liked the poem, so here it is.

6/29/00

Read to the End

Where can you be?
they are calling
desperate in their way
to find you

in the middle of negotiation
you walked away
stepped out…to where?
Is that when you called

me and left a message
“Talk to you at home”
two hours ago and
you are not home.

Where can you be
run off, run over
leaped off a bridge
into swift green water?

Wandering lost
down familiar, but faint
Chicago city streets?
Sudden flash of “must get out”

sudden loss of stamina
to keep on such a hard
“responsible” course
you set for yourself

thinking your sacrifice
was for us?
Where could you be—
come home to me—and talk

it through, like we always do.
Take this line I throw out to you
hold fast as I pull
you back to the safety of my arms.

**
And now the rest of the story:
You left for a meeting,
an estimate on hail damage,
and came home smiling after.

No danger, no need for worry
who knew? All that energy
wasted except to realize
once again how I love you.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2000

Recently rediscovered from my poetic journal

Cutting our wedding cake, 1974

Margaret and Stephen, Door County, WI

#poem #anniversary #love #poetry #lovepoetry

Prompted by Blake’s Question

4/5/20

Prompted by Blake’s Question

in this time of mandatory stay at home

For Stephen

We do what we can
to laugh, to love
to live another day.

And when we learn better
hopefully we do better.
How have you and I stayed

together 48+ years—still friends?
Once the question is out there
I’ve been thinking back

to the roller coaster
our constant notes written and left
to find, funny, sometimes thoughtful

sometimes informative, touching base.
The times we might have split
but worked through it

the relentless medical challenges
job stresses, raising two kids
personal growth, changing, not always

in perfect parallel aligned
“and if I fall behind, wait for me.”
But here we are together

almost half a century after that first January
when we sat side by side in the front row
the first day of a college literature class

had our first conversation of countless many.
Here we are still interested
still laughing, watching out for each other

still loving.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2020

From my poetic journal, a reminder that this week (Jan 17, 1972) is celebrating 49 years together. The quote is a reference to a Bruce Springsteen song.

Unexpected Wave, CA Beach, by M D Mikus, Copyright 2013

After the Wave, taken by Stephen Mikus 2013

Tough Cookie–Ethel Polk

8/12/18

Tough Cookie

Last night at dinner,
animated and laughing, she said
her cheeks were swollen and red
with a sinus infection
the time she was supposed to
meet Billie Holiday.
And a guy, possibly a musician,
maybe a manager, in any case,
he had a remedy that involved
smoking something, which she did
and it made her nose run,
but Billie Holiday did not come.

This was after Ethel had fallen earlier
that evening, injuries unknown but stiffening,
after the folk concert to which we all had gone,
after the extra help to get out of the car,
the painful short walk to the table.

After the century of living,
working, remembering, loving, and losing,
picking up after each fall, healing,
continuing to live, to connect,
relishing food, red wine, people, music,
near blind, but the next day
having a guest for brunch.

After the congenial dinner at Shokran
one woman got her standing,
kept her from the broken glass,
two strong men helped her walk out,
carefully, no rush, to the waiting car at the curb,
one woman carried her bag,
one willing woman held the door,
another kind man drove the car.

“Why do so many people help me?”
she said she’d asked
and the answer came back:
“because they love you!”
And she’d replied, “Am I worthy?”
And I would say to that:
We are all worthy
we are all loved.

As you ask, it is answered,
whatever you’ve sent out
returns multiplied.
And…people like to help—
makes us feel less helpless.
Grace is not earned but given
freely to everyone
not just to Ethel at 101.
Who knows the purpose of a day,
every astonishing one
until our allotted time is run?

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2018

And the rest of the story: Ethel Polk ended up in the ER that night where they found she had broken her hip! She had surgery and recovered, continuing to live vibrantly.

Until yesterday, when she died at the hospital from several things, including COVID. She is already dearly missed.

Sun Through Orchid, Copyright 2013 M D Mikus

After You Left

Shortly after we dropped our daughter off at her new college dorm she asked if I missed her. In response I sent her the 14 poems I had written to help me cope with her leaving. Later these poems became the seed that grew into my book Letting Go and New Beginnings: A Mother’s Poetic Journey.I also included the poems from when her older brother went off to college and photographs I took of the campus. I realized that when one phase of life ends, another begins and those poems are part of the story as well.

I thought it was finished in 2006, but more poems came when our two children returned home like many of their generation. All of us were adjusted to our separate lives and had to adjust to living together. And then, once again, the leaving.

It is a mystery why certain poems pop into my head years later, but this one has been quite insistent lately. Perhaps it is the opening lines…

For you, here is this poem from Letting Go and New Beginnings:

2/24/08

After You Left

Constantly
I am watching out for you.
Even when I am not watching,
I am watching.

I cannot say why this is true
or when it began,
it feels like forever
my love.

So do me a great favor
and become…not less carefree
nor less careless,
nor even more careful,

for being full of care
is not it exactly.
Be more aware of your choices,
more in tune with your inner wisdom.

For you are wise
dear one.

And if I am selfish
and want you to stay with me
when it is clearly time to go,
forgive…

and go.
Call me when you arrive.
I will be waiting.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
Copyright 2008

Dinner with Geary–Connecting through Poetry

7/24/17

Dinner with Geary

On the good days
what comes between here and there
the before and after, now and then
the necessary transition
the clarifying calm after the storm
the personal and the political
is messy but manageable

On the bad days
fear overrides all good instinct
kindness mistaken for weakness
brute control at any cost, manipulation
mistaken for power and yet…
even here in abject darkness
a sliver of light, or a crack

that lets light in or a smidgeon of hope
What kind of question opens the door
to the path, not laid out in advance
but created new under each separate footfall?
Why tell you this—or ask you
to consider not losing hope, not despairing?

We are each a dot in a context
a deliberate point in a pointillist painting
It is the context, the perspective
I offer for consideration

And we are each a universe entire
autonomous yet connected in a web
of strands seen by some, felt by others
maybe you are one, if what you once knew
when you came here has not been pounded down
If you can still recognize what is true:
We were made for these times

To remember, hold to beauty, inspire
Not as in human cold marble statues
of superficial shallow perfection
but embodied spirits, warmly human
unwitting gods of creation, fragile and powerful
at least a bit willing.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2017

In looking for something else, I found this poem and realized I had not heard from my friend, Geary, in quite a while, since we had met for dinner at a favorite Thai restaurant. I realized I had not sent him the poem that came out of our conversation. I decided to email it to him to check and see if he was ok. He got back to me right away and had quite a story to tell. As he said, once again our lives were in parallel. Here is this poem for you too. What has inspired you lately?

Chicago Roof with Pigeon, by Margaret Dubay Mikus, Copyright 2012