I came to the counselor’s office
broke. They gave me a student rate,
equal to our weekly grocery budget,
but I deemed it necessary
as food. When they asked
what prompted my visit,
I said I was a newlywed.
“Congratulations,” they said,
and I burst into tears in the lobby.
The counselor hugged me,
this woman I didn’t yet know,
and told me, “He loves you.”
“I’m not so sure,” I whispered.
Just two weeks after our wedding,
bills arrived, work schedules consumed,
and finals descended. We saw each other
only when I brought him lunch at work
and right before bed. He spent
his meager free time with buddies.
Marriage didn’t cure loneliness,
and I staggered from the shock.
In the counselor’s office I poured out
all the swirling changes
which finally pulled me under
into my familiar darkness.
Week after week I vented the pain
and my heart gained strength
while my hope renewed.
On the day that broke me
she asked me to imagine
my younger self in a chair,
to tell that girl what she needed to hear.
The waters stirred deep inside
and I told that former me
she wasn’t bad
she wasn’t condemned
she wasn’t under the curse
of her parents’ divorce
and right then a levee burst.
Water poured out in great sobs
for a small eternity,
and in those open moments
the light of grace shone bright
like the first warm sunshine
that melts the dirty snow.