I Do

by John Enright

What can it mean to say "I do" forever?
We don't live for forever — we live now
And for some time to be, but we can never
Know with certainty the twists and turns
That lie ahead — the when and why and how
Of life's surprises — and the flame that burns
Within us for each other, hot and bright,
Might flicker and go out, or be consumed
In some new love for someone else's light.
Why would I enter into such a vow
When fortune telling is a game that's doomed?

Oh — just because of all these great unknowns
I dare to take a stand and take your hand.
We are not rolling down a hill like stones,
We do not merely bounce without a clue,
But, more like ships, we steer through storms toward land,
Then take to sea again — the open blue
Attracts us with its sparkling invitation
To sights unseen — to music never heard —
And not just rehash of some old sensation
But startling new experience unplanned.
Amidst all this, I offer you my word.

To keep my vessel cruising next to yours,
Whatever winds may blow, whatever gales
Wash over us — as long as mind endures —
To keep your flags in sight. For while the wind
Is what gives all the power to our sails,
Its pushing does not point our way. Unpinned
I tack against the gusting face of chance
By dint of rudders, ropes, and careful craft.
I keep eyes fixed across that wide expanse
On my direction — until eyesight fails,
Though tempest tossed, though lost, though dazed and daft.

For like a compass pointing to the north,
The arrow in my heart points tried and true,
And by its pain I know when, back or forth,
My way has strayed from where I want to be.
All this is what I mean by my "I do."
Oh, darling, will you say the same for me?
I cannot ask for more than that you try
To keep me in your sights while yet you can.
I know that even true loves sometimes die,
But while it lives I offer mine to you:
Be my woman, and I'll be your man.