What occasions the particular flare
of memory as I open my mouth
to the dentist's scraping, the rough
sound of the handheld electric burr
and calculus pulling plaque deposits 
off hard-to-reach back teeth? Of all
things, I think about the total
number of years I've been married
(counting the first time), and how
it now exceeds the number of years 
I've worked at my current job. In either 
case, tenure's precarious: something 
arrived at through daily calibrations 
of teaching, research, service. 
Ideally, each must feed into and not 
crowd out the other. What of love? 
Ideally, the heart and the head 
and the hands do their thing in concert. 
And though the premature display 
of valentine hearts and candy in drug-
stores sing every variation of two, 
the labor going into any kind of work
still singularly comes from you. How 
and what do you have to shoulder 
every day? What makes it even  
possible to carry what we do? 

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