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from Oxford University Press

how the light

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Pat's poem, Barry Moser's illustration. Proceeds to AWA outreach. For the text of the poem, click here.

To hear Pat read the poem, click here.

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August 17th was the 60th Anniversary of our wedding — August 17th, 1957. Here’s a new poem and some old and new pictures.


Today the Visiting Nurse Association
has pronounced me able to walk up
the flight of stairs to our double bed.

According to the computer,
I am today 29,908 days old.
Of those days, I have lived with you
21,430 days. We have slept together
more than twenty-one thousand nights.

I gripped the handrail with two hands
as the Visiting Nurse physical therapist
watched from the first floor and you

followed one step behind me
to catch me if I fell. When we were
half way up, she became as concerned
about you falling, as she was for me.

I did fall for you on a Saturday
58 years, 35 weeks and 1 day ago.
I stood at the back of the chapel
of our school out of sight waiting
in the dress my mother made, its
French lace and great satin scallops.

For a few minutes as the organ played
and Chester sang the song I had written,
I stood out of sight and alone.
I thought, Who is this guy? I don’t
even know him! Then I was directed
to the doorway and I saw you
at the end of that long center aisle
through our gathered beloved,
and you grinned at me, and I
thought, Oh, yeah – him.
And walked slowly to you
toward the rest of my life.

Today it has been 72 nights
since I fell again, taking a turn
from my standing computer desk
to my sit-down desk
by the window with the bird feeder.
For 72 nights I have slept in a hospital,
a rehab center, and finally
in a single bed under windows
in the room where I write.

You slept upstairs until
they brought me home
with my walker and my special tools
for doing things without bending
my hip more than 90 degrees.
27 nights we kissed good night
in the room where I write, and
you went to sleep on the couch.

Today, after we practiced walking
up the stairs to our bedroom,
you behind me, the therapist
watching – after she left,
you went to your clarinet
and played a sweet melody
by Mozart. Then I asked you
to play my favorite song,
Just a Closer Walk With Thee,
and when you took off with a wild
jazz riff, I cried, remembering
how — both of us virgins in that
long ago time — how you carried me
across the threshold in an old hotel
for our first night sleeping together,
twenty one thousand nights ago.

-Pat Schneider

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Amherst Writers & Artists (AWA) is the organization that is carrying on the work Pat established and carried on for more than 30 years. To discover how you can write with an AWA Method Group, or become trained as an AWA facilitator, please click this link.