Valentine’s Day can be a little stressful. Expectations can be – you know – a little high. Even if you are a reasonable person.

Long ago, in the early days of our marriage, my husband was very sick for a few days before February 14th.

“Don’t worry about a present for me,” I told him. “You are too sick to deal with it,” I told him. Did I mean it? We had only been married a year or two. And we were very young.

I bought him a nice wool hat – I remember that distinctly – and probably gave him a funny card. I may have bought some of his favorite candy (those orange jelly slices). He was aghast when I gave him his gift. “I… I don’t have anything for you,” he said. “Like you told me.”

The night did not end well.

What I MEANT when I said “Don’t worry about a present for me” was “I know you feel terrible and I also know you wait until the last minute to buy presents which I really disapprove of and you better find a way to get me a present or at least a card.” This was in the days before Amazon Prime.

What he heard was “I am secure in your love for me. I don’t need a Valentine’s Day present or card.” Which was not unreasonable given what I actually said.

We have since learned to say what we mean. More of the time! As often as we can.

*      *      *

Poems tend to say exactly what they mean – yet can suggest a world of things other than what they say. Here’s one for today…

We Have Not Long to Love
by Tennessee Williams

We have not long to love.
Light does not stay.
The tender things are those
we fold away.
Coarse fabrics are the ones
for common wear.
In silence I have watched you
comb your hair.
Intimate the silence,
dim and warm.
I could but did not, reach
to touch your arm.
I could, but do not, break
that which is still.
(Almost the faintest whisper
would be shrill.)
So moments pass as though
they wished to stay.
We have not long to love.
A night. A day….


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