Complexities of long-term relationships

 

Complexities of long-term relationships

I turn out the light 
on my side of the bed 
and roll on to my side 
and fold my arms, hands 

in armpits, my thumb 
aching as it compresses 
into my shoulder either
from holding it this way

too many times for too 
many years or from using
it too many different ways 
for too many years and 

there is for a moment 
an ache in my gut like my 
balls have been kicked but 
it only lasts for a moment 

and—“Good night, love,” 
she says and, “Good night,” 
I say as I realize that three 
days have passed since our 

seventeenth anniversary
and we have done nothing
to celebrate and not because 
seventeen is not such a special 

year but because there is no 
money for it and—“There’s 
something on the counter
that’s shining a blue light.”

“It’s the little vacuum.”
“In the kitchen?” “No, 
dear. In the dining room. 
On the shelf. It’s reflecting.”

“Oh. I just hadn’t noticed
it before.” And I think, 
“It has been in that same 
spot for two months.”


A death of memory poem

 





I have been thinking about the
writing of death poems. How this 
practice can prepare one for the 
inevitable. I had intended to write
a death poem on the forty-seventh
anniversary of my birth (the beginning,
I thought, of a new annual tradition) but 
I did not. Instead, I seem to have written 
a death of memory poem, something 
that I believe I must fear even more 
than death itself at this time in my life,
though this is probably only because
I have not come close enough to 
death while the death of memory is 
a thing that I have known closely for
quite a long time. So here is my
death of memory poem. Perhaps,
by its writing, I will be made ready.







Let my poems be a hedge between
my self and the loss of my memories,
a palliative against or a salve for the 
wounds that I saw on my father’s face, 
that I now have seen on my own face, 
that same face when I look in the mirror.







My memory is gone.  It is a broken 
thing beyond fixing that will just run 
down and down over time. But maybe 
these words, these poems will give me 
something that my father never had, 
something that he never knew how 
to find on his own, something that I 
do not know that I know how to find
on my own and yet still I search and 
yearn for—a changing of the heart, 
a look in this mirror, a softening of 
the self (hard, hard thing that we
make within us, our myriad actions 
and phenomena uncountable that 
we cling to, these never-ending 
evanescent folds in the cortex 
of time, these simple tricks we 
use to try to woo security to sit 
at the table with us, to say to us
that we are we but not alone
and yet somehow still solitary…).







Perhaps I can find this thing 
for both of us, my father and
I, though he is long past finding
and I find my self searching still.







Perhaps, if my memories must leave 
me (and it seems that they will) I can 
have them replaced with poems.  
If my memories are to be dislodged,
if they are to fall to the wayside, 
I would rather have poems in their places 
than just more fears of losing more memories.







What is the self but a bag full
of memories that we cannot 
put down? Though we are
boarding a train to a place 
of no things and we stand
ultimately alone on the platform
and the bag is full of useless things
and our arms are already full of all 
the things the world has given us
that we did not want or need or ask for,
still, we cannot put it down.







I want to be able to put it all 
down. When the time comes, I 
want to be able to board that 
train with empty hands. Let me
board it with empty hands, alone.











Child of the past of the father of the future

I see you there 
on the other side
of forty-seven,

waiting for me
like a father,
like a child,

looking up,
looking back,
waiting for me

to catch up,
to start making
sense of what I see.

Well, stop.
I won’t do it.
I can’t do it.

This is why I 
do what I do
and you know it.

So stop. Stop waiting.
Stop wasting both
of our times.

I’ll get there 
when I get there
or maybe I won’t.

You’ll just have to 
wait and see or
wait and not see.

It’s all the same to me.
I don’t care anymore.
I will do what I do.






  

A Little Grown Up

lilw-2

 


You are chatting 
with my big brother--your uncle, 
who wants to make cheese--

and cutting up a wedge of Tomme 
de Savoie, explaining to him
how this one is particularly ripe, 

finding its unique, piquant 
funkiness, that sharp bite, little bits 
of mold all through its bloomy rind,

and you are eating the pieces,
bloom and mold and all, and I 
awake, punched through by an ache, 

dumbstruck witness to a growing 
I can not understand, can only stand under,
pulled up by the roots from within me.

Dirt falls back to earth.
Dust drifts down to the floor.
My mouth is full of clay—
 
“Please, let her take her time.”