Wednesday, January 16, 2013


weird little things
going away
today, I cancelled the p.o. box I have had for ten years
the one that still gets mail for you
They won't be forwarded
the catalogs and advertisements
mailed to you
I realize
as I hesitate to click -
I won't see your name
inside a pile of mail again

outside the post office
was where I first recognized you
in an unfamiliar place
all those years ago
when we first met
knowing it was you
from the back
from your shape,
from how you walked and held yourself.

This morning, I continued to clean out
dumping old spices you'd kept
dumping old packages of things
we wouldn't eat even if you were here to make them.

One more clean out of the closet
I discard and take back the dress I wore
to your funeral
(a word, three and a half years out, I still cannot bring myself to say out loud)
the dress my mother chose.
I won't ever wear it again, but I am not ready to let it go.

In one bottom dresser drawer
I find your old wool pants
willing myself to put them in the pile
of things that need to go.
I don't associate them with you anyway.

I check the pockets just in case.
Just in case.
Inside, one poop bag, stuffed in your pocket
for a winter snowy dog walk.
And I stand there,
crumpled pants in my hands
trying not to cry
sifting through my mind to find an image of you
of us
late at night
your brown scarf looped stylishly around your neck
your hands stuffed in the pockets of these green pants
as you walk backwards, skipping


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

without holding

Going through some old files, looking for something. What I find is this  - some passages I had written the night of your memorial, and the day after it. I'd forgotten now, who was there, what was said, who I was. I'm afraid of the things I have forgotten, the things that would be so useful and important now. I feel like I'm at a crossroads, though a long and slow one: there are important and powerful, real and true things back there in all those words, all those things that happened and were felt. I live without them now. Until they come back, circling back sometimes. What did I write for me, and is it important to go back and look? Or am I supposed to walk on from it, to hear what gets written now.

This poem here below, I had forgotten. Joan read it at your memorial; I read this in my notes. This is where I am these days, this is where I live - the knife sharp and dull, and a long clenched fist unfurling.

To Have Without Holding
Marge Piercy

Learning to love differently is hard,
love with the hands wide open, love
with the doors banging on their hinges,
the cupboard unlocked, the wind
roaring and whimpering in the rooms
rustling the sheets and snapping the blinds
that thwack like rubber bands
in an open palm.

It hurts to love wide open
stretching the muscles that feel
as if they are made of wet plaster,
then of blunt knives, then
of sharp knives.

It hurts to thwart the reflexes
of grab, of clutch; to love and let
go again and again. It pesters to remember
the lover who is not in the bed,
to hold back what is owed to the work
that gutters like a candle in a cave
without air, to love consciously,
conscientiously, concretely, constructively.

I can't do it, you say it's killing
me, but you thrive, you glow
on the street like a neon raspberry,
You float and sail, a helium balloon
bright bachelor's button blue and bobbing
on the cold and hot winds of our breath,
as we make and unmake in passionate
diastole and systole the rhythm
of our unbound bonding, to have
and not to hold, to love
with minimized malice, hunger
and anger moment by moment balanced.