The Promised Poem


"Write me a poem," she'd said.

Any time Esme demanded something of me, I was helpless to indulge her.

Many may call this a weakness, but I know myself far better.

We finally came inside together from the bitterly cold night, our shoulders dusted with snowflakes, and our lips undoubtedly flushed. Our children scattered at the sight of us, but Edward loyally remained to pass me the waiting telephone.

I watched from the corner of my eye as my wife slowly ascended the stairs, shedding her gloves and scarf and coat as she went. Her gentle smile weighed on my thoughts long after she was out of sight.

When I at last laid the phone to rest in its cradle, I wasted no time in gathering the pen and paper from my study. There, I sat at my desk, tapping my foot against the floor as I waited for the inspiration to strike me. Once it did, I would fall fast.

My eyes watched the window, peacefully adrift in the clouds of a soft brown sky. I remembered Esme's slender fingers swimming across the heavens and my hand was spurred into motion across the page.

Words came so quickly when I thought of Esme.

Words came even quicker when I thought of Esme waiting for me upstairs...

I finished the poem in record time, and I titled it "Brown Sky at Night" with a fine-tipped calligraphy pen in chocolate colored ink. I smiled proudly to myself, knowing my artistic wife would appreciate the care I had taken to coordinate the theme.

I hid the note in my jacket sleeve and plucked a holly bough from the banister as I rushed upstairs, thrilled by Esme's unexpected greeting at our bedroom door. She kissed me passionately, almost as if she were trying to disrupt my plan on purpose...

She could make it a challenge if she wanted, but I would still win in the end.

I kissed her back happily, enduring her sweet, nonsensical prose of affection as her lips brushed mine in loving repetition. When she finally allowed us to part, I walked to the window and adjusted the curtains, waiting patiently for the moment when she turned her back to me.

As I had promised, I tucked the poem into an unmarked envelope and slipped it beneath her favorite pale pink pillow with the tiny cherubs stitched into it.

I trusted my ability to keep her distracted the whole night through – my guess was that this would be an unremarkably easy task to accomplish. So long as that pink cherub pillow never turned over, my plan would be safe.

When morning finally came, Esme would slip into her robe and walk to her bedside to rearrange the pillows in her eccentric little ritual. She would reach for her favorite pillow first, and when she lifted it from the bed, she would see the unmarked note beneath it. Beside that unmarked note she would find the promised branch of holly berries.

She would brush the bough aside with a smile and carefully unfold the small white envelope that contained her promised poem. Her delicate fingers would slip the page out of its hiding place and she would read:

"Brown Sky at Night"


I have known the night sky well

Throughout my lonely life,

But I must now write this note to tell

My own beloved wife

Just how fortunate I am to have

Her show me how to find

The beauty in a deep brown sky;

To keep an open mind.

She took me to the rooftop,

And there she sat me down

And asked me if I noticed

That the sky was very brown.

At first I missed its beauty

But with her eyes to guide me through,

I could see the brown sky

Was as lovely as the blue.

So now if I should watch the sky

Upon a winter's night,

I'll recall the time I wrote this rhyme

How my darling wife was right.