The kind you’re born with, the kind you choose, the kind that teach Catholic school
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Things I didn’t get to last week: answering the mail, giving up coffee, saving the planet.
Losing an illusion, Ludwig Borne writes, makes you wiser than finding a truth.
I lost the poem. I thought if ever I lost it, I’d lose it in darkness. But I lost it in the middle of the day. I lost it working for a better world. I lost it while the fire engines raced by, while strangers ran down the street, while all my thoughts streamed down the hall and out the door, shouting something that wasn’t true, that couldn’t be true.
The world’s hello, its sly smile. The folded note it left at the front desk. The map I was promised that never arrived.
Do I forget to eat when I’m hungry, cry when I’m sad? I forget to turn to You. I lie about my love for You. The heart, too, has its hacks, its PR agents, its USA Today.
The endless apology. God another way of saying I’m sorry.
Not to walk across these years as if I were crossing the street. Not to make a daily habit of forgetting, as if knowing who I am is no more important than brushing my teeth. Not to talk all the time about life, as if life couldn’t hear, as if slander had no consequence.
Still looking at young women, still embarrassed by it. In the sky, the same full moon I stared at as a boy.
I make a fundamental error about the world and the world, like a dutiful servant holding a mirror, reflects it back to me.
Pretending everything I took from her was mine, that it was mine forever.
To remember we’re truly equal, that she’s not here to take care of me. Thus, not to take any expression of love for granted, or to consider her hurt or anger as a loss of love, as if love were guaranteed.
My leaky voice, leaking my truth away. My feelings. All to explain myself. As if winter explained spring.
A lump where there shouldn’t be. Thoughts of death arrive suddenly, like carloads of long-lost relatives pulling into the drive. Couldn’t they have called first? Couldn’t they have waited until dinner was done, the children tucked in, the bills paid? Until N. and I, in the refuge of our too-familiar bed, touch each other’s too-familiar bodies once again? Death crawls under the covers, comforts me, reminds me everyone dies. Death’s arms circle me: the orbit of my life revealed.
Trying to cut a deal with God, as if my days were bargaining chips. No, God says, it’s all or nothing.
Shaken by the news of my passing. I barely got to know myself. Every time loneliness came calling, I pretended to be busy. I wasn’t home. I got married. Oh it was love, all right. Isn’t this God’s breath we’re breathing? Isn’t this the long tease of His love?
It’s nothing, the doctor says. Spring throws me a sidelong glance, flutters her eyes, laughs.