The Story Behind the Sonnet
Christmas was approaching and we'd been dating for a year. It was time to make the commitment, but I was a broke seminary student with a part time job and no savings.
After she and I been dating just a few months, my roommate reported to me a goofy dream in which I had proposed to her by presenting her a rump roast. That was a very specific detail: not just any roast but a rump roast. (?) I shared that story with her, we had a good laugh, and that was it.
Now I truly wanted to propose but had nothing to give to her. Then I had a bright idea! 💡
That's right. I proposed marriage to my beloved with a rump roast. My intent was to let her know my intention up front, and save up money to buy a ring later.
I procured the necessary beef (I was so broke I had to get the butcher to cut it in half so I could afford it), froze it, packed it in styrofoam, gift wrapped it, and presented it to her in a private gift exchange.
She unwrapped it, was at first taken aback by the cold, clammy brick of meat, then looked at me and said, "Does this mean what I think it means?" I nodded. "YOU explain it to my parents," she replied.
Looking back at that episode, it later occurred to me that I never actually asked her to marry me, and she never actually said yes. We just began planning a wedding which happened six months later to the day.
And my dad gave me money to buy a ring. He said sagely, "The ring is really important to the ladies."
Some years later I wrote this sonnet, in part as an apology, but mostly in profound gratitude for the love she showed to me that night and every day of my life since.
See my blog post,
No present you could give would give me pleasure,
So much as one donation of a kiss.
A clever gift will never be a treasure
As priceless to me as a simple Yes.
You cannot give as well as when forbearing
My cold proposal one December night,
Accepting clumsy humor for the swearing
Of lifelong love, you understood my plight.
Such gold a seminarian may own
Is bound in books and prayers and divine call.
You took my raw collateral for the stone
I could not offer when I pledged my all.
Though now as then I'm poor to show a ring,
Accept the jewel Love that these words bring.