I forget, between visits and dalliances, just how
Unreasonable she can be, how out of the common way.
The clothes, the hat, the thermometer. How are we still
Even together after all this time? After all these oddities
And embarrassments? Yet, even as the carriage bounces
Along to Oxford, I see her face soften. "So you do want
To come live with me at Shibden, mm?" "Yes." She takes
My hand, looks soft. "When Charles dies." She throws
My hand back into my lap, growling, "Not now? So, what
Am I supposed to do? Just wait for this maybe-sometimes-
Never event?" She is angry, and I've rarely seen her
Like that, and never for long, but I do know that seventeen
Years is not the five or ten we had presupposed, back then.
Charles has turned out to be hardier than expected, if not
Always as firm as I'd like. She sees the thoughts flicker
Over my face. She knows me too well. She can see it all:
My fear for my future, my jealousy over her moving
Her little Miss Walker in, my surprise that she could
Ever find someone who might replace me in her deep
Affections. Someone other than me she might have, hold.