To Some of the Boys I’ve Loved Before

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.

acoustic-guitar-tips

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.

~

Amye Archer is the author of Fat Girl, Skinny, a memoir about waiting, weight-ing, skinny jeans, fat girls, bad choices, and happy endings. You can buy it here.

 

Just Kids

I lost my beloved grandmother last month, and as part of trying to process what happened, I’m using some writing therapy to get through it. Forgive me the sentimentality.

Just Kids

While you were dying, I was reading Patti Smith’s Just Kids. I had just started it, still knee-deep in her catholic upbringing when I first heard the word cancer. Patti’s own words started to blur together after that. Mary, crucifix, Brooklyn, I couldn’t crawl out of the haze. The nurses ticked in and out of your room like seconds, we barely noticed them. I told you about the cancer. I called your friends and told them, drove to your apartment and pulled the shades up and down twice a day, washed your clothes, checked your mail, read the tabloids to you, and waited. You do the dying, I’ll do the rest.

While you were dying, we talked about the weather, the Kennedy’s, the royal family, Bill Clinton, neighborhood gossip, and the University where we worked together-me a teacher, you a server in the cafeteria-seven years of education separating us. I forgot about the cancer occasionally, we both did.

While you were dying, I wrote you a thousand and one-half poems in three days. They all started like this one. Suddenly, I wanted to remember everything-the shift of my weight against your hip as I sat at your bedside, the cold of your hand, the sound of your labored breath, the creak of the bed rail, the beep of the IV, I hung onto all of it, wallpapered my brain with my last images of you and lived in that room for weeks.

The sun fell faster than it had in days, like it was dropping from the sky with no purpose. The weathermen talked about the cold snap. Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe had just become Robert Patti Bluestar, and you were gone. I couldn’t bear to read anymore. I imagine they still live at 160 Hall Street. I imagine Robert still stringing the beaded curtain and Patti still fanning through art books. Between the tattered black covers of their story is where you will die forever.

While you were dying, I wrote you a thousand and one-half poems in three days. They all ended like this one.

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