Tuesday, June 22, 2010

29. A Story Someone Else Told

Everything is circuitous
it moves forward then back
then in circles as if lost

My first time was in a department store
my memory misplaced, too young to
remember, I suppose, but kept and revived
by my mother’s retelling, lost
in a rack of clothes (I imagine
dresses) and my mother looks for me,
finds me crying
at my abandonedness

Thus everything is left
behind, put in place, relegated
to the static past, that is how
we leave behind our dead
mothers, grown children, our
friends, husbands and wives,
the little boy who whistled
his way along the sidewalk

Oh, well,
not much to do
about it

We go on, in place
of forward, with only
ourselves and a small packet
of indistinct memories,
a basketball bouncing on
its own, a set piece concerning
art and archives, what
there was for dinner one night
long before we counted
on nights

Some one of us might learn it
after all these years, how
to move in the past as if
it were our continuous future,
expectation versus repudiation,
the light that draws us

It’s good old agony time again,
she thinks, she writes, the
method is what she wants it
to be, the recording of herself,
so that she endures, not just
forward but into ourselves,
we take her in again and again,
until we realize who she is,
and we need neither diary
nor film to call her forth

I am 3 hours and 18 minutes
from her house, but she is dead,
and her son’s read through her
until all that remains is that
crystalline purity of herself:
controlled, bitter, passionate,
in wrong love, lost, and ultimately
beautiful, a tortured voice,
so I stay here, in the dark,
only a computer screen to light
the way, and it is hopeless
at it

I’ll take nothing more than
a little bit about
the inner workings of
her mind, though I’m poet
enough to know the futility
of that, though I’m archivist
enough to question any
record that might
save a human from that
inevitable demise, a word
can’t fix it, in place,
a photograph can only freeze,
but a human person is a flowing
and contradiction, lovely
in her unavoidable unacceptability

Am I ready to settle for it?
she asked only herself,
and she did, a life lived out
to the end, that single chance
funneled into spiral notebooks
until she could convince herself
she had become what she
could be, a person who
knew herself and waited
her time, a sadness befalls us
that she might not have known

To be in a life looking out
doesn’t seem a trap, even in the cage
of the body that senses the possibilities

Only those of us looking back,
those who know the story, can worry
for her, too late, too late

Her husband said,
Things are growing up,
and they are, the garden
burgeons with the searching
arms of tomatoes, the swiss chard
is green and red and glossy,
blueberries and raspberries
are blushing into ripeness, and
the rain’s coming down,
invisible, in the darkness,
as if we need it, and

your boys must be tall
and weedy with life by now

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