A Thing That You Do

I started taking piano lessons the summer between 5th and 6th grade. My piano teacher told me that it was very important that I keep my fingernails short. So I did.

It was a thing I was supposed to do.

Now, when I say, “so I did,” I mean, “Given my general lack of attentiveness and indifference to such matters, I would, when pressed, remember that I was supposed to keep them cut short, and act more-or-less accordingly,” — which is a much weaker sentence. More accurate, but definitely not as strong as saying “So I did”.

As I gradually grew into whatever level of attentiveness came to represent my maturity, I lost the discipline of keeping my fingernails short. I started keeping them short again after I got married, for reasons I will get to in a moment.

Unlike the stock photo that accompanies this piece, I have usually cut my own nails. I will admit to having gone through a period of my life where I got manicures, but the pandemic ended that, and I’ve never started back up again.

A lot of things have “never started back up again” since the pandemic.

I am thinking of all of this because I cut my fingernails just before writing this post. And I do it now, not for piano playing reasons, but because my wife likes the way my fingers feel on her skin. She likes the feel of fingernails less.

So it is just a thing that I do, because when I touch her, I want her to enjoy it. And once she has told me what she enjoys most, it is important to me to remember and act accordingly.

Much of love in the long term consists of what are commonly called “little things”, or what I am calling “just a thing that you do”. They are not dramatic or earth-shaking; they are just decisions that you try to make and then not simply unmake.

In the same way, much of bettering love in the long term consists of noticing and acting on other such things. My wife finds these things for me often.

And it means a lot.

Love is a paycheck, not a bonus; 
It's not the rain, but more the sea --  
Love is like breathing more than running; 
Best seen and showed in its 


The One That Wasn’t

She traveled the low, and dreamed of the peaks. 
Searching always her tribe, finding only their cliques,
She began to think, maybe, the problem was her:
For solutions just were not as advertised.

In the heat of the fall, in the cold of the spring,
She banked nothing and all on almost everything,
Was she neurodivergent, or just immature?
For the world seemed a little surprised

To find her as she was, or perhaps, as she wasn't:
Our do's and our will's do not fit one who doesn't --
And the moon still looks lonely to she-the-unsure,
The allure of just what wasn't


Only So Many

"How much time do we have left?" 
The young boy asks, his parents shrug --
"Just enjoy the time while you can,"
His mom says,
While his dad looks on with a camera.

Sea touches sand like breath in lungs,
Clouds form their shapes, these whales, these ships --
Time flows and washes all away,
The mind will lurch and reach and slip.

We've traveled here, my love and I,
For she's now sick, and we don't know
How bad is it is, or how it ends:
The waters crash and ebb and flow

And I still don't know how much time
There is or can be, nor will I;
Awake I am, out on this shore,
While she is sleeping in, nearby,

Only so many days like this --
Only so many hours, smiles --
As I, like my father's camera try
To capture wind, and love,

And miles

… some believe …

 there's some believe in recipes -- 
for life, for love, for making friends --
and so they want a step-by-step
to lead them, surely, to such ends
as motivates their soul and heart,
and so they wait, and never start.

there's some believe life's not that way:
each story different, like each day,
and that to live's to improvise
(for knowledge does not make us wise)
and that discovery's not knowing
but, it's more like bending, flowing,
inching, reaching, floor and ceiling,
earth and sky and simply


it was not so long ago —

there was that time -- 
and it was not so long ago -- 

  when rain fell into barrels by our door, 
  when pain was bearable upon that floor, 
  for you and me were linked, and strong, and free, 
  and true was more than price, or liberty. 

and when you felt your shoulder tapped, you went --  
it was your time, you said, and so you served -- 

  but afterthoughts and undertows be damned, 
  we had a dance to dance, a spotlight time: 
  but nothing bought, and nothing we had planned, 
  could comprehend the sentence, or the crime. 

there was that day -- 
and I guess it's been years -- 

  when though we were, you weren't, and that was all, 
  when going through meant me becoming small, 
  for as the rain evaporates by sun, 
  so we the two were destined 

     to be one