Voyages from I to Thou.

Location: Skellig Michel, Ireland

Friday, January 07, 2005

Anniversary (Sept. 15, 2002)

Today it’s been twenty years
since I lost the second woman
I hardly knew yet I loved
in full, stupid, jealous & greedy.
In losing her I became
so desperately and infernally
alive as to beg silence: her shade.
All I remember of her today
is that morning we walked
on Cocoa Beach after fucking
most of the night. We were
making small talk in our
dreamy exhaustion—laughing
at the way sandpipers scurry
like tiny execs— when she
paused and smiling at me
in front of dawning sea.
The whole package I recall—
that smile, the blue eyes streaming,
the curly blond hair in a halo
of sun, her breasts full
and straining against
a year-old bikini top, the
sea crashing light foam
at her ankles like cream,
that evanescent breeze—
all of that was greater than
any morning, a finally found key.
Yet that was only true
in reverse, when she told
me at last to go to hell.
but in reverse. I recall
how I hurt bad enough
in the proceeding months
to see beyond the heat
into caring at last about
how I lived love.
How the days slowed
in the viscosity of grief,
a sludge both anguished
and gorgeous, slowing
the day to a wave-crawl,
the sunlight lengthening
across the lakes.
That image spoiled my drinking
for the next 4 years
though I tried, reaching
for her on every tree.
to care last about how
Eventually I came to
marry that shape,
sacrificing the wild
night of making love
for long hard days
of patient making.
Love doesn’t teach us
how much there is to
gain in love, only
how much there is to lose
by not loving, or failing
to love well enough.
Today I recall those long
burnished days in September
when grief was a tide
tolling a sea
I’d been born to in losing.
Stupid, jealous, greedy,
it’s true, but also the wound
which eventually bled me real.
I sit in the house I prayed
that day to inhabit,
the sum of every surrender
I made to love’s brine,
it’s awfullest, most
incompetent son,
each smile a wine
so much more difficult now
so much more
what she only kissed.


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