In trying so hard
to make you see me, only
walking away worked.
Here’s what; take a look at yours
and know that you have filled it up,
that you have punched it for all it’s worth
and used it up with me.
There is no remittance, no exchanges, no returns, and no more promotions;
We will go on, until we don’t, but know
I’m not accepting any more pain from you.
I got the call at Mom’s at quarter after seven that night; it was the hospital:
“Your father has passed away.”
I’m not sure what is worse, being told
or having to tell.
Cancer had been eating my father
for months, and now it was done.
He was not supposed to die so soon – there was so much more to do.
My mother walked around for months like half of her body had been ripped from her,
and I went numb, like the body will from too much pain.
Tonight, I walked my dog, and thought about the man
who taught me how to spell before any teacher had a chance, how to color (“You want to stay in between the lines; look at my arm, the color is all there”)
how to shoot baskets, and how to play blackjack before I got out of grade school.
This was a dad who built a well in the front yard (no water, but it was pretty), and a tree house in the back yard.
This was a dad who would sit with me at the kitchen table, and go over the names of all of the sports teams in each state, so that I knew there were New York Mets, Jets, and Nets, just for starters;
This was also a dad who would take me to the movies on Saturdays, who showed me the best way to wash dishes (I’m still working on that one, Dad), and who I learned so much about, after it was too late to talk to him about it all.
Since I can’t ask you about it all, Dad, there’s just this to say to you –
You were all right, Dad – you did all right by me.
To enter a realm of possibility
Where love could be more than parts from a catalog, still
A mystery, still a delicious bite of magic
And the universe expanded a little bit
Every time the bell was rung.
I pay my money
and wander through with you;
So many mirrors,
there are dozens of you;
I bump into you,
and you smile at me,
but something is
off – the curve of your mouth is wrong;
no, there’s more.
It’s the eyes.
You look through me,
and the smile doesn’t reach your eyes, even though you try your best to make it so.
I look for the exit, and run; but there is none
only a path that goes in a circle
that leads back to you, or the one in the mirror who pretends to be you.
No clowns with bloody teeth
could be any scarier.
How do you fall out of love?
If physics applies, you can’t fall out of love.
If you fall in love,
you would have to crawl up and out of it
to get out of it.
That sounds more like it.
And if you’re in it alone,
and you know it, finally,
you would have to
crawl up and out, through mud
and broken glass
and realize that the scars
and the stains
all belong to you
tattoos of choice
Just be glad once you reach daylight,
because a fall from that height kills.
The words are said.
The heart is done.
The pain is buried.
The love is gone.
By the sea,
I think of them
sitting in a circle with me on the beach; Mom, Dad,
Grandpa Toma, Uncle Paul
We’re under sunshine,
on the sand
next to the best waves.
Summer always comes and goes too soon.
I think of absent friends and family;
it doesn’t matter which season comes next,
for me, the next one always comes without them.
The calendar means nothing here; Summer does its big finish when it wants,
in a ball of fire,
and a puff of smoke
and bows out
giving it over to Autumn.
In a moment, you were here;
you weighed two pounds, and could fit in one hand; you grew, and suddenly
had arms that moved just like your mother’s, and could throw a glance
just like your father –
This is what we don’t talk about, but we remember – you wanted to go to UC Davis
and be a veterinarian.
You loved to play basketball, and, like any good auntie would do,
I was teaching you my favorite sport – shopping, what else?
Once, we were out, and you said you were looking for size zero;
I said we would need to go to the invisible clothing section.
That made you laugh, and your laugh made me happy.
We lost your mother when you were seven, in the same hospital where you were born, and
you did the thing that sad girls do; you got up, and went to school, and kept the big pain inside.
When your dad was still alive, the three of us would go to bookstores in the afternoon and read –
No way for you to escape the love of books; your parents and I were smitten with reading, and you would be, too.
Then, in a moment, your dad was gone, and we both walked around with more holes in our hearts.
And three years later, in a moment, you were gone, too.
In a hospital, in L.A., in a moment, with one wrong move, you were gone, too.
A slice of life in a moment – and we are left here,
and we sew the shreds together, but the seams can still be seen.