29 stanzas for 29 yearsfor women who are bear and fox for bear and fox who are women I present this gift
traditional gift: none
nontraditional gift: this poem
flower: wildflower (species unknown)
before there was the life you built together
there was the space that was empty for it to be built in…
the prologue then is this
I offer congratulations to the possibility,
the space, the empty glen, the contruction site
of a temple, a marriage, a home, a life
where ever there is an anniversary
there is a birth…
I offer you my congratulations
on the moment before the first kiss.
You will receive much adulation
for time and labor
and the years that followed
but this is the second
that amazes me most:
when anything might have happened,
when nothing had yet happened,
before what did happen
Congratulations on this. Happy 0th anniversary!
traditional gift: paper
modern gift: clocks
the landscape around them is changing,
men and bulldozers and wars of enemies
and wars of allies, wars of change itself
are threatening the forests of what is known
of what is knowable
out of all the allies and would-be allies,
this is the year that one ally is chosen;
the ally to outlast all others: the Ally.
The ally of a lifetime.
this is the year the fox and bear first spot one another
between the trees
love is also a wilderness, a wildness
what do two women care of what society thinks of the love of women
what do two animals care of what society thinks of the love of animals
what should we care even now of societies who STILL refuse to believe
1) men (and women) are animals; just animals
2) animals are capable of love; not just instinctual behavior we anthromorphize as “love”
3) love is instinct; wild, animalistic; a survival instinct
In that moment when the fox and the bear meet
in the high green grass
to roll and laugh and fish salmon,
pink pink salmon twitching
and jumping red and spawning
into the open
of the red fox and brown bear
who fished in the river there
together, rolled in the sun naked
in their fur; bear and fox
found themselves in the moment
found something in the moment
worth staying for and so stayed…
the first year anniversary is traditionally paper
paper as in map
map as in how we got here
map as in where we are going
arrogant and hopeful, friends give cards
that say congratulations congratulations
that mean good luck, bon voyage, travel
advice, fingers crossed and who knew?
(you would even last a year… why invest
in more than a card) if you will last another
year and then another
…if/when you do these cards metastasize
get out of control, forget themselves
become something they weren’t meant to be…
you will have a photo album of such cards,
of the travelogue of this life together,
let my card –inadequate if well-meant–
be then a brag: “I knew it, I predicted it”
a report:”I saw it, I was there”
a letter from home to travellers abroad
a letter from the past to the future and back again)
let our cards be also what they are
simply lottery tickets… may you win the love lotto
may we too be as lucky to win what you have
psst… which of these is the luckiest
the winning number?
Don’t be selfish
your friends need to know…
can you imagine
what we would do with the lottery winnings?
what we would build? give back to
the community? give to ourselves?
share with you?
Traditional Gifts: Cotton
Modern Gifts: China
Flower: Lily of the Valley
Cotton and China…
dishes and towels
tablesettings that are useful and decorative
that fill the kitchen
either too expensive too use
and so lives on display behind glass
to indicate this arrangement has colateral
(stuff we could split or smash
if the relationship is a wash)
clocks and bedsheets
that decorate the rooms behind close doors
and watch, keeping the time
to see what, if anything,
will happen there
…and for how long
these mute witnesses may be
celebrants, comforters, proxies
of gift-givers and as such harbor
gifter’s suspicions, intentions
and sit ackwardly on the bed or shelf
or be tucked into a box in the garage,
because the item or the relative is too
valuable to be simply discarded
but the daily presence is too unwelcome,
unwanted, intolerable, or simply too ugly
to share a place in this house, this marriage, this life
in the woods and bedrooms, wild
animals have no need for china
they eat with their claws and mouths
naked in their fur, lick themselves clean
hunt for sweet wild berries and slippery trout
Traditional Gifts: Leather
Modern Gifts: Crystal
Women may gift each other leather
Women may wear leather(s)
The leathers they wear are costumes public and private
they reassure and tantalize
(Porno Mythbuster #29: cops don’t find handcuffs sexy
and that other thing… yeah no, not going to happen.
So don’t ask him or her to wear the uniform home.)
Bear and Fox do not wear leather
they are leather
Do not ask them what this means
they do not have the language to explain it to you
they do not understand your question
it’s none of your business anyway
Traditional Gifts: Fruit or Flowers
Modern Gifts: Appliances
Take the advice of traditionalists. Make smoothies.
Drink them on the deck, alone or together,
in the morning watching deer till your garden.
At night, drink them in the hot tub
after band practice with friends
or just two of you, alone and together,
watching stars fall around you.
With a splash wine, smoothie sangrias.
Leave the hydrangea to the deer.
Traditional Gifts: Wood
Modern Gifts: Silverware
“Prior to 1937, only the 1st, 5th, 10th, 15th, 20th, 25th, 50th, and 75th anniversary had a material associated with it…A gift for each of these milestone anniversary years was also decided by the society. The logic of presenting gifts was that stability deserves a reward and more the stability the greater should be the reward.”
In emily post’s society you have earned the forks and spoons
to go with grandma’s china, congratulations.
Fox and Bear do not read emily post
or care for her suggestions. Bear rubs her
rough back against the heavy oak.
Fox gambols around her lover’s scratching post
(all the post that either recquire)
chasing mice for dinner. No silverware required.
Traditional Gifts:Candy or Iron
Modern Gifts: Wood
Candy or Iron? Or wood? All these
are metaphors and materials
to be found in perfumed x-rated catalogues
that Fox-women share with slutty
femme and gender-ambiguating friends
like herself. Candy panties? Iron nipple
clamps? Calla Lily shaped dildoes?
Certainly these cannot be
what is meant by gift suggestions?
Not these gift suggestibles?
Bear-women blush butchly, grumble,
lumbering away from such conversation.
Chocolate or a watch, no doubt, is meant.
And drum sticks or softball bats would be welcomed.
But Bears are long suffering and know enough
not to open to gifts of some friends in public places.
Foxes will buy what foxes will buy
and what her friends (otters, beavers,
peacock birds and lions in heat)
know about that
should not be written here…
because it is not wise to poke the bear.
Traditional Gifts: Wool or Copper
Modern Gifts: Desk Sets
IOU a stanza
Traditional Gifts: Bronze or Pottery
Modern Gifts: Linens or Lace
IOU a stanza
Traditional Gifts: Pottery and Willow
Modern Gifts: Leather
Flower: Bird of paradise
More leather. This is paradise.
Refer to Year Three.
Yes, the happy couple is registered at
Traditional Gifts: Tin or Aluminum
Modern Gifts: Diamond Jewelry
“By middle-to-late 1930s, people began to celebrate 1st, 10th, 20th and 70th anniversary along with 25th and 50th. A gift for each of these milestone anniversary years was also decided by the society. “
See how values change? The height of fashion
once demanded tin, now wants diamonds.
What did the romans mean? And when
have you known me to do (as expected)
as the romans, in rome or anywhere?
Still I wonder did they mean gift me
with weapons, jewelry or tins of food?
Surely in the 30s and surrounding decades
canned goods would have been
a welcome and loving gift.
In (dis)spirit of these traditions
I offer you this: let’s skip the yellow
bloodwar diamonds and cut
flowers and grab instead some
aluminum cans from our own
cupboard. The theater has free
tickets today to any show
with a donation of two cans
to the food bank.
How often do we just go
out to a movie together?
Traditional Gifts: Steel
Modern Gifts: Fashion Jewelry
Two lips. ‘Nuff said.
Traditional Gifts: Silk or Linen
Modern Gifts: Pearls
O woman, here there is no gift we can give you
that does not already lay open
that you not already given to each other
what silky peon, what pearl, what man in the boat
falling out in the wet, linen bedwaves
as the world you have made of each other
and the rest of us are so far away on the horizon
other ships in the distance
(other captains and other destinations)
and nothing to do with the now of now
while you are now and in the now
now in each other
and now and yes still now!
You are captain and captive,
the ship and the sea; the boat in the storm,
the storm and the stormbringer
and yes, still now! Still yes!
the storm, the harbor and you follow
the advice of other poets
and moor, moor in her.
Traditional Gifts: Lace
Modern Gifts: Textiles or Furs
Nothing unlucky about this year.
Step off, triskadecaphobes.
A full cycle of moons in a year.
A witches decade. A bakers dozen.
(Insert cop and donut joke. Insert
donut sexual innuendo.) Insert
life and love and fear and hope
and health and healing and change
and changes… and through it all
the two of you
in spite of whatever, whateverything
there. For us. For me. For each other.
For ever. Just there. Just here.
What could be luckier than that?
Traditional Gifts: Ivory
Modern Gifts: Gold Jewelry
Ivory and gold? Is this the shopping list
of poachers or pianists?
There is no jungle. There is no concert hall.
There is making terrible, beautiful music
the joyful howling in the park
with the tribe… outside music… outside
judgment… outside the box.
And there is the den. Inside.
Bear and Fox snug, hibernating
curled together whenever their natures
and work schedules allow.
Inside the den. Safe
at home. At home
in each other.
Traditional Gifts: Crystal
Modern Gifts: Watches
“Prior to 1937, only the 1st, 5th, 10th, 15th, 20th, 25th, 50th, and 75th anniversary had a material associated with it. In 1937, the American National Retail Jeweler Association issued a more comprehensive list, which associated a material for each anniversary year up to the 20th and then each fifth year after that up to the 75th, with the exception of the 65th.” Source: Cookie Lee, Wedding Anniversaries: from paper to diamond, page 61.
Because it suits them, society labels what it wishes
this a marriage, that an arrangement,
those an abomination.
Because it suits them, corporations merge and allow
for new definitions, new laws, new “rights”,
new solutions; they “give” what was never theirs
not theirs to restore, certainly not theirs to gift.
We do not need the advice of the gift-givers/list-makers
We are as we have been: natural, free, our own and each other’s
We give ourselves to each other
We are our own to give
Our lives are Ours to make whatever, whateverything
we will make
dykes, bears, foxes, amazons or marriages
–whatever the label of the moment–
remain what they, what we always were
fierce, unflinching, true.
Modern Gifts: Silver Holloware
Hollowed. Hallowed. Hollows. Haloes. Howls.
Bear in Hollows. Bare in Hallows. Barren Haloes.
How-ling. Howling laughter, joy, pain
(at my pun-ning)
I’m not certain what is meant by holloware
so you’ll have to make due with this stanza
(only a decade or so overdue)
Modern Gifts: Furniture
It’s time to replace the bed. Again.
See stanza 29.
Modern Gifts: Porcelain
IOU a stanza
Modern Gifts: Bronze
IOU a stanza
Traditional Gifts: China
Modern Gifts: Platinum
A cynic might suggest
that the shift from china to
platinum is toward
heavier and less breakable
projectiles but I think that is
my relationships I am describing
Year Twenty One
Modern Gifts: Brass or Nickel
Your relationship is old enough
to legally drink. Take a bottle
of Cold Champagne (and two
cold beers) in the bedroom.
Brass (the cop on top)
Brass Band. Brass Instruments.
Brassing off. Brass balls. Brass ring.
All metaphors tonight
The metaphor of grabbing
for the brass ring comes
from carousel riders getting a prize
by grabbing and catching
the dangling token
as they held tight to the moving
creatures (unicorn, phoenix, bears
and swans) they straddled.
While the music plays,
the carousel spins,
the machinery lifts the carousel beasts
and whether you catch
the ring or no, it is an amazing ride.
No metaphors needed.
Year Twenty Two
Modern Gifts: Copper
IOU a stanza
Year Twenty Three
Modern Gifts: Silver Plate
IOU a stanza
Year Twenty Four
Modern Gifts: Musical Instruments
Insert dirty joke about tubas and drummers
give it some cadence, a brassy innuendo
and then a da-dun-dum, rim shot at the end.
Snicker: rim shot at the end. LMAO.
Reposted. Like. Share.
Traditional Gifts: Silver
Modern Gifts: Silver
“The practice of giving peculiar gifts on various wedding anniversaries originated in Central Europe. Among the medieval Germans it was customary for friends to present a wife with a wreath of silver when she had lived with her husband twenty-five years. The silver symbolized the harmony that was assumed to be necessary to make so many years of matrimony possible. On the fiftieth anniversary of a wedding the wife was presented with a wreath of gold. Hence arose ‘silver wedding’ and ‘golden wedding.’ This practice, borrowed from the Germans, has been elaborated upon in modern times.”
Source: George Stimpson
Two wives: that’s a lot of necessary harmonizing.
Fortunately, you have and get and like the practice.
Year Twenty Six
Modern Gifts: Original Pictures
insert photo here
Year Twenty Seven
Modern Gifts: Sculpture
If I wrote something for you
here it be about the gifts of sculpture
you have given me (even
temporarily… such as fat
rattle woman) and about the
sculpture I often thought of giving
you (and those I have over the years)
and that even today I thought
something… what, dinner… art
a sculpture of bear and fox together.
And I thought give them something
they don’t have, something they need.
Fool, they have everything they need
they have each other. What they want
they get for themselves, for each other.
You women, crazy and sane, you are my best
friends. You are together and separate
a model for the life I am sculpting for myself.
I could have given you a gift certificate
but chose instead to stay up all night writing this
to give you something only I could give you…
…because that is what you have always given me.
…because that is what you have always given each other.
Year Twenty Eight
Modern Gifts: Orchid
Orchid. Nudge, nudge. Giggle.
Year Twenty Nine
Modern Gifts: Furniture
It appears that tradition
has no true romantics.
There is no
gift, no symbol, no flower.
Even modern skeptics
predicted lesbian bed death
and their suggestion
of furniture is more
that of giving your wife
a vaccumn cleaner
for her birthday
because its time
to replace the old hoover.
Like so many things
that stay together out of inertia
rather than passion.
Besides they’re all saving up
for the real
holiday to come. The day with zeros.
This is a trick of commerce.
29.99 is not 30.00.
Buy a new bed. Modern
skeptics were wrong.
from the webpages of the Queen (UK not san francisco)
The historic origins of wedding anniversaries date back to the Holy Roman Empire, when husbands crowned their wives with a silver wreath on their twenty-fifth anniversary and a gold wreath on the fiftieth. Later, principally in the twentieth century, commercialism led to the addition of more anniversaries being represented by a named gift. In the Commonwealth realms, one can receive a message from the monarch for 60th, 65th, and 70th wedding anniversaries, and any wedding anniversary after that. This is done by applying to Buckingham Palace in the United Kingdom, or to the Governor-General’s office in the other Commonwealth realms. In Canada, one can also receive a message from the Governor General for the 50th anniversary, and every 5th anniversary after that. The situation is similar in Australia, where one can receive a letter of congratulations from the Governor-General on the 50th and all subsequent wedding anniversaries; the Prime Minister, the federal Opposition leader, local members of parliament (both state and federal), and state Governors may also send salutations for the same anniversaries. In the United States, one can receive a greeting from the President for any wedding anniversary on or after the 50th. Roman Catholics may apply for a Papal blessing through their local diocese for wedding anniversaries of a special nature (25th, 50th, 60th, etc.).
As you can see you are ineligible currently for papal or presidential blessing and must make do with this: my blessing to you.
The names of some anniversaries provide guidance for appropriate or traditional gifts for the spouses to give each other; if there is a party these can be brought by the guests or influence the theme or decoration. These gifts vary in different countries, but some years have well-established connections now common to most nations: 5th Wooden, 10th Tin, 15th Crystal, 20th China, 25th Silver, 30th Pearl, 40th Ruby, 50th Golden, 60th Diamond. The tradition may have originated in medieval Germany where, if a married couple lived to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their wedding, the wife was presented by her friends and neighbours with a silver wreath to congratulate them for the good fortune that had prolonged the lives of the couple for so many years. On celebration of the 50th, the wife received a wreath of gold. Over time the number of symbols expanded and the German tradition came to assign gifts that had direct connections with each stage of married life. The symbols have changed over time. For example in the United Kingdom, diamond was a well known symbol for the 75th anniversary, but this changed to the now more common 60th anniversary after Queen Victoria’s 60 years on the throne was widely marked as her Diamond Jubilee. The origins of the current gift conventions date to 1937. Before that, only the 1st, 5th, 10th, 15th, 20th, 25th, 50th, and 75th anniversaries had an associated gift. In 1937, the American National Retail Jeweler Association (now known as Jewelers of America as a result of an organizational merger) introduced an expanded list of gifts. The revamped list gave a gift for each year up to the 20th, and then for every fifth anniversary after that.