The prolific Catholic writer, EWTN personality, and notable public speaker Mike Aquilina is, I should admit now, a very good friend, but if I didn’t think highly of this book, I’d absent-mindedly forget to review it and look abashed and apologetic if he asked. Some of the poems in Terms and Conditions are amusing or funny — he really loves word play — some theological (St. Augustine and St. Gregory make appearances), but most, written for his wife Terri, charmingly but not sappily romantic. “Indulgence,” for example, which begins complaining that he’s just not feeling penitential this Lent no matter what he does, and then continues:
I search my heart for reasons, finding these:
Your hair is long, lush, and brown, blown clean
Across my pillow when I wake. Each breeze
Brings the songs you sing our son.
As king, I wrongly spend this holy Lent.
Though I give up all but you, I shall not want.
The poem “You could not stop the winter storm for me” similarly explores the gifts a spouse gives the other, and includes the striking lines:
You could not keep my childhood here for me,
So you gave me children, drew them near for me.
That’s part of what growing up and being married is about, but I’d never thought of it that way. In a poem like “Pilgrimage,” one of my favorites, he combines observations about life with a tribute to his wife in a way that integrates both, or perhaps rather recognizes their integration. The ending, the integration, is traditional, but not less effective for that.
Much recommended, especially for husbands. You can order the book here.