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I stand by the bed. I watch him there, mumbling by the window sill. He does it so often. I find no reason to bring him back, to lay him down, and have him rest as he should. He’ll find peace when he needs to. Visions of bloody soldiers parade through his dreams. Now is the time of serenity. I care not what others may have said.

“Come to the window,” he calls, “sweet is the night-air!” His eyes glow glassy in the moonlight. I try to match his smile. “Listen.” He holds one finger to his lips. They whisper something I cannot hear.

Nearby, water flows. It is a trigger for the rushing sea of his imagination. Beside the bed there lay his most important articles. I dust the crumbling leather book of his grandfather, adjust the pictures, and polish the medal of valor until it I can see one lonely blue eye in its reflection. That eye has more lines than the year before. It has seen more worries. It has cried more tears.

He turns from the window. His hands fall to his side. He looks to me, lost and unaware. “The Sea of Faith was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore,” he continues. He struggles with each word. As he speaks, his conviction fails. This is the person I know.

He stutters and stumbles like a blind man. “Ah, l-love, let us be t-true,” he announces. The corners of his mouth turn up for a moment then fall down. His spirits follow. “True to one another.”

His hand finds mine and I direct him towards the bed. I sit him down then place on his night shirt. Carefully, I take a little bottle of thick green liquid and give him a spoonful for the night. He stares as if seeing me for the first time. “A land of dreams,” he murmurs. “So beautiful.” I lay him down. Together, we pull the sheets to his chin. As his eyes begin to close, he says, “Ignorant armies clash by night.”

The nurse stands in the doorway. “You’ve dosed him?” she asks. I nod. She takes the bottle. Her hand lingers on mine. “He’s lucky to have you as his wife. Most never visit.”

I step out and she locks the door behind me. Through the eye hole I steal one last look. As I do, he sleeps gently with a final word on his lips, “True.”
This is a response to Matthew Arnold's "Dover Beach," which is where the dialogue comes from. The narrator of the poem is speaking to his "love" on their wedding night. I wanted to tell a story from the perspective of the "Silent Lover." If you haven't read the poem, please do. It's beautiful.
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September 3, 2009
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