I’m working on a new book. It’s coming along, but sometimes writing a whole book can be so solitary. You live in this world, you and the voice-the narrator-and you live there alone. For a long time. Sometimes, I just need to break that solitude and write something, and get it up here on the blog and out into the world. So, in that vein-here’s a little poem I worked on this morning. It’s rough, but I’m spent. I hope you enjoy it.
To Some of the Boys I’ve Loved Before
I dream in previous lives-the one where you’re young and carve our initials into a tree planted in the middle of a parking lot at the nearby high school. You propose to me there-I accept, act surprised, even though I orchestrated the entire moment-right down to paying for the ring.
You mother is a soft woman. Her birthing you and your siblings was her greatest achievement. Her raising of you is the light burning in her belly for the past forty years. Later, when I think of the word mother, I will think of her-always. Her kindness was just what a chubby, insecure teenage girl needed. I keep the good parts of her with me, mother my girls with her heart.
On a hot, fall night you teach me to play Radiohead’s Creep, my favorite song. You press my plump fingers down into a bar chord and slide our fused hands up and down the thick neck of my cheap guitar. We make music together. I mistake your tenderness for love. Sing the touch of your skin into every Radiohead song.
There are chapters of books living in the back of my throat. They hold the stories of our break ups, our failures, your hands on my body. They hold the story of my babies, of how I willed them into existence with sheer want. How they could have been yours, or his, but found the exact right man.
I braid my daughter’s black-brown hair. Three strands thick and sturdy fold effortlessly into two, then fall together into one. She loses patience with me when I have to pull it all apart and start again.
I dream in past versions of myself-call my husband your name in my head sometimes, fix his coffee like yours, wonder if you remember the way we sometimes fit together like the ocean and the sand-one resting atop another.
I write in meaningless parts-our life together carousel-ing into my daughter’s childhood, us as teenagers against a black sky in the backyard of the home my husband built for me. Car parts and extra brothers resting elbows on a table I no longer own.
I don’t know how to separate you completely out.
But, I’m learning.
One poem at a time.