My Girlfriend’s Husband


Spanish Moss by Va State Park Staff on Flickr

I am in love with my girlfriend’s husband
Because last night when
She was inverted in downward dog
Her ponytail flipped and I saw
The best of her younger self,
The girl he spotted when they first met
Her all unpacked from her worries;
And then
He, walking alone back from the
School drop-off this morning with his
Umbrella, his thoughts so loud they
Clamored over his head in a dance party yet
His body cut through the air like
A wave.

And because one warrior girlfriend has
Worn her armor of joy and generosity
To cover the bruises, and
Leaps to block the pain and the
Insistent memories, and he
Pulls her back against him like
The softest cushion, again and
Again, soothing her and
Surprising her with his
Endurance race of love.

I am in love with my girlfriend’s
Husband who is lost right now and anxious
And a beastly wonder of
Sentiment, so he
Hangs onto her like a life preserver,
Which is his gift to her.

The husband I have not met I love anyway.
Those two cheeks pressing into each other
In the Facebook photo, the freckles against the
Beard, snapped as a favor to a friend
And shared. Smiles hang on them
Like Spanish moss across one wide
Live oak. The noise in their life
Retreats behind them:
Contentment fills the frame.

I am in love with my girlfriend’s
Husband, who holds his own dreams in
His pocket, like loose change, who
Works in the hours of the day that he doesn’t
Spend with her, yet works for her.
Sends her love texts too practical to be
Mistaken;
Makes dinner. Washes the car.
Writes her a love song he
Sings out loud,
And see her the way
She wants to be seen. Takes her
In his arms and says to her–
All of her–
Yes.Read on…My Girlfriend’s Husband

The Real Sun


Suns rays through the forest by Steve Slate on Flickr

At dinner Tati asks “Mom,
When will we get to see the REAL sun?”
And I have to clarify her meaning, and she is
Careful to explain for my slow brain
Not that plain orange ball floating
Up in the sky but the
REAL sun, with its long-reaching
Arms that stretch out, the
Yellow one with spikes that
Colors all the storybooks and is the
Truth. And I tell her the answer
I’ve gotten better at these
Years, my cotton ball “I’m not sure,
Honey” that cushions my
Shock and surprise over and
Over again. I’m driving down the
Road wearing my hands-free device,
Feeling morose and cornered and wail:
“Mom, why do we live to break our
Hearts over and over again? Why not
Just listen to our parents when they
Tell us what is good for us?” and Mom
Takes another audible drag on her
Cigarette and breathes out an
“I’m not sure,
Honey.” … Read on…The Real Sun

Starving

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons and Feed My Starving Children

I am hungry, but I’ve noticed this:
I’m not starving. I haven’t had to
Eat grass or dirt today or
Give the last bit of
Rice I have to my child which I’ve
Carried on a 10 mile walk from my
Hut to the malnutrition ward
Of Kathmandu Hospital.

All the hyberbole in the
World won’t stop the poorest souls in
Narrow and narrowing lives from failing to
Be yet more invisible. I don’t
Need a drink. I am confused
Again by words and their
Meaning. All the
Misstatement in the world won’t
Fill an empty well. … Read on…Starving

The Grocery List


My mind was a grocery list last night
Running through the pantry of
Missing items. Of those staples
Of self I do not have. If I
Take a job offered me (why bother)
I’ll just be the spoiled apple
In the crowd.
I put “good attitude” on the list.
I wanted to join the child of my
Own club, but uh oh.
Put eggs on the list.
Then there are those
Skinny jeans that need
Filling. One-by-one I try
Erasing a bad habit or
Two from the list, the
Late-night snacks, the
One cocktail that goes down like a
Sigh of relief, and then
Reluctantly I add in all awful
Caps EXERCISE, which smells odd and
Tastes plasticy and so it rots
On the shelf every time
I buy it.

After I finished the
List and slumped in
A chair, weeping, I went to put on
My pajamas. Colin, I said, it’s
Not that I hate myself. I don’t.
It’s just that to make the list
Of what I am missing,
Doing wrong, need to fix or
Do better,
I lose the will to see inside
The pantry to all that I already have.
I know what you mean, he said.
Read on…The Grocery List

Easter Morning Undone


The choir moved like
Cattle from the pews to their
The risers, Easter morning.
Two arms raised and one intake of breath.

That morning however

A soprano stood alone at her
Bathroom mirror, pushing her
Fingers through still-warm
Grey strands. Hot plastic
Beast on the counter top
Lay slowly cooling down
Waiting to be put away. The
Woman tugged her green
Jacket lapel, touched the golden hoop earring
And gazed at the jagged and
Ever-unfamiliar face surrounding
The shock of green eyes
Pooling with memory.

A tenor himself listening to
The Beatles on the way to service
Strokes and strokes his beard again
Like totem. He’s not singing a
Hard days night in this Camry but in a
Beetle that burned out 28 summers ago
And left him stranded on a New Hampshire
Highway, so that he had to walk into
The town with his guitar and his
Duffle found himself in bed that night with the
Stranger who stopped and offered
Him a ride.

The alto shakes. She prefers to think she
Vibrates, but the hand she once used for
Simple tasks — drying a wineglass, sewing skin —
Has broken away from her body’s grasp and gone on out
Its own. She won’t answer you if you ask.
She has not consulted anyone. She
Cares not to know why. She wears
Deep purple today, remembering
Mary Magdalene and her set aside grief.

The bass forgot his reading glasses today. He is
Singing from memory, and seeing the glasses on his
Bedside table, on top of his iPad, next to his
Empty beer bottle. He walks back through the
Room and sees he forgot, too, to make
The bed. The phone rang while he was
Tying the pink tie his dead partner gave him
Three years ago. His mother calling to
Say hello and make sure he is
OK. Yes mom. Love you. Call you later. Click.
He finished tying the tie and lost in
Memory,
Walked out.

Two arms circle. The choir finishes the breath in
G. In steady stream they leave the
Risers, Easter morning undone,
Each gone to find one seat again.
Read on…Easter Morning Undone

Three Girls

[caption id="attachment_367" align="aligncenter" width="417"]Three Sisters - Near Canmore, AB Faith Hope Charity[/caption]

Our girls are not
Bedrock and limestone.
Take them to the dance and
Pump them full of absinth and
They are yours. But all those
Bruises rush downhill in
An avalanche of destruction,
Coach.
Little man, you are
Pummeling your own
Little girl, your own
Little princess at her
Fifth birthday in the
Bathroom with your hand over
Her mouth saying shhh shhh
Don’t tell. Apologize and
Wallow in your regret; don’t
Worry little man. Another
Misguided sister will bring her
Charlied up compassion to
Bear and around and down again
The story will go until
Your own little man
In short pants and
A mantle of excuses
Centuries-long and heavy
Slams himself inside another
Unconscious
America’s Next Top Victim, cuz
The girl won’t go
Easy but the
Judge will.

Read on…Three Girls

My Father-in-Law’s Dishes


I am in a kitchen in Ontario
And the house is packed in
With family and around with
Snow, and even more so by
Farmland and emptiness. It’s
March, my mother-in-law’s birthday
A day we’ve made as a holiday
Because it makes sense to
Celebrate in the middle of
Winter in the middle of the
School year so that all can
Come without interruptions to
Holier days.

And we eat turkey around the
Pool table, with all the
Chairs assembling from the
Scattered bedrooms in this
Rambling affair of a house and
My brothers-in-law Duane and
Greg have puzzled together the
Plywood cover for the table that
Duane built for us to eat on and which
He’ll leave there for
The Duration because,
I’ve noticed, it bothers him how my
Son bangs the balls around.

And we demolish the meal that took Henry
Days to prepare, we demolish it in
20 minutes, which is less time than it took
To make the gravy.
And the kids want to leave the table,
But I don’t let them. They fidget.
I recognize the twitchiness in my
Own memory, eating around the
Brown card table in Granny’s
Icy basement.

Karen and I clear the dishes,
And there’s the scraping into
Compost, and rinsing into
Sink strainer. I prefer my
Garbage disposal at home, but I
Can work with this system.
My father-in-law nibbles on bits
As he packs up the food. There is
Turkey carcass everywhere.

I move the dirties from one, and then
Another area of counter and wipe them clean.
Now a dry towel down here, for the wet dishes, and
Another on my shoulder. And one more, for
Colin to join me.
That counter is dry and no, please,
No more dirty dishes there. I wipe it down again.

The hot water
Fills the sink
And the soap.
I begin with the
Least dirty plates,
Front and back.

By the time I get to the pots and the pan I am really very
Tired and the water is sludge and I thought perhaps I could
Make it on one sink this time but I didn’t so I
Let it all out, the filth,
And rinse the porcelain sides with my hands. Bang the
Basket into the trash.
More hot water.
The leftovers are stored in plastic.
The twins are sitting on Duane.
A dog rushes down the hall after a ball.

The sink fills again and
I keep going on,
Washing my
Father-in-law’s dishes. … Read on…My Father-in-Law’s Dishes