“I married you
for all the wrong reasons”
– Linda Pastan, I Married You
When he lost his balance while getting
down on one knee (“So, will you?”
was how it finally fell from his lips),
when he looked up at me and
I looked down at my finger (afraid
the halo would never come off),
when I replayed the night Aunt Ellie passed
and the way teary snot dripped from his nose
(“I’m making a mess” he moaned),
I thought of saying no.
I did not know my lips could turn blue
while standing in the sun. But he left
and it got cold, standing alone with You—
a cold memory—creeping in through
windows, mail slots, laundry baskets. (You are quite deft.)
And now my teeth are chattering, and my lips are blue.
I remember his scent, clean and fresh like the morning dew,
and I will not, can not, believe that I am bereft
of him. Even while standing here with You.
I have so many things to say to him, a whole slew
of accusations: perjury (his vows), murder (our dreams), theft
(my youth), and others I cannot say with lips iced over and blue.
And though I desperately want to, I’m scared to
make a sound; I don’t want to give his presence more heft
than it already has. He doesn’t deserve that after leaving me with You.
But then I hear someone screaming (is that me screaming?) Screw you!
It doesn’t matter, though, because memories are deaf,
and if I whisper, speak, cry, shriek, my lips turn bluer
still. Because when he left, he made sure that I’d be left with You.
Blonde Hair Says
I party hard and
dumb sluts have more fun, but no
one judges fairly.
Gold with flecks of green:
scanning the world in color,
processing in grey.
Inside the Nose
Citrus, mint, and musk
seduce the senses until
I can remember
Red Velvet—sweet as sugar,
cake-battered and bruised.
is a cardboard box—
four flaps refusing to close
no name, no address
forms the letter S—
scoliosis has stripped me
of a straight backbone.
Brittle white tips get
clipped and polished—Nature’s proof
that I’m still growing.
Help me leave—hurry!—
but his memory holds fast.
(I need to speed up.)
No measure of poise
and feeble attempts to stand...