Sunday, December 21, 2008

Holding up the ceiling

A poem by Michael Blumenthal (1949 -):

A Marriage
For Margie Smigel and Jon Dopkeen

You are holding up a ceiling
with both arms. It is very heavy,
but you must hold it up, or else
it will fall down on you. Your arms
are tired, terribly tired,
and, as the day goes on, it feels
as if either your arms or the ceiling
will soon collapse.

But then,
something wonderful happens:
a man or a woman,
walks into the room
and holds their arms up
to the ceiling beside you.

So you finally get
to take down your arms.
You feel the relief of respite,
the blood flowing back
to your fingers and arms.
And when your partner's arms tire,
you hold up your own
to relieve him again.

And it can go on like this
for many years
without the house falling.

This is one of my favorites. It expresses, more clearly than I ever could, the partnership that must exist for a family to make it through all the different parts of a collective life. Lately, CPod has been holding up more than his share of the ceiling. He has not complained even once about his additional dish duties and single-parent bedtimes, nor has grumbled about his lack of clean underwear or home-cooked meals. He's amazing and wonderful and I'd better stop or everyone reading this will begin to wonder if I'm trying my hand at irony. But he's not the only one that deserves a big thank you.

This week, my poor sister-in-law, who will hereafter be referred to as Deshee since that's what MayDay calls her, spent half of her Christmas vacation in the company of my children. She was an indispensible part of our family this week, and I am so happy to call her my sister. My children love her and I fear if we were to have her around more often, they might just kick me out for good!

My mom also took her turns holding up the ceiling over the past two weeks. It's great to have her around because the transition from me to her is nearly seamless since she is merely an older, wiser, more fun and slightly more excitable version of me. Here is why my kids love her so much:

You've been grouchoed!


  1. How would we do it without the help of family? I love the poem ... definitely sums up life perfectly - whether between husband and wife, other family members, or friends :) You've helped to hold up my ceiling more than once!!

  2. This is totally one of my favorites too! Awesome job Sunday! Merry Christmas!

  3. Great poem and I Love the picture! It made me smile really BIG!

  4. I loved this poem the first time you read it to me, and have loved it ever since.

    And I love your boys. Oh, so much.


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