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Million Dollar Husband

June 13, 2014

for Renee & Larry

She had been walking behind him,

Falling in love with his cadence during their three-hour group hike.

Now mid-fifties, after buying her first house at sixteen, exiting two marriages

And a life of slinging fixer uppers, she marries this man

With third degree burns disfiguring his entire face and body:

Who was working at a dump

In the center of Illinois with his dad –

When he made a little fire to stay warm, but since he was only

Eight years old, he neglected a high-octane paint can that was too close –

What followed next was a chain of cosmetic surgeries and a

You had it coming. It was all that his father ever said about the accident.

She calls him her Million Dollar Husband. Between his reconstruction,

The pacemaker, the organs and joints and bones removed and replaced

Over the years, it is probably close to what he’s worth.

This kind of story telling is bilingual,

It needs to be sung, heard, then translated

Into the language of the spirit –

I hear her say he is undefeatable but she never spoke the word.

We look out the window at Larry, braced and bent over irrigation, as he

Constructs a lifeline for her dahlias and hydrangeas.

Building is an integral extension of his heart.

Each project an intimate artery to the world.

He never graduated high school, but it wasn’t necessary because he knows things

He doesn’t even know how he knows.

He’s been around for centuries, she says,

Lived life is beyond what we think and say –

Some people have courage and they need to be talked about,

Let it be a kind of legacy for those who make out of abuse and horror a place for nurture,

Decorating it with flagstones, lined with big flowers –

Everything has the capacity to teach us,

Translate it from all the singing.


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