Drafting drafting drafting. Aren’t we always editing and fixing? Did you know that one of the greatest contemporary female poets, Sharon Olds, published a whole collection about her divorce, the adultery committed by her husband, the subsequent landslide of devastation, and ultimately healing. Did you know her collection won dozens of awards, including the biggest one. And still, decades later, it’s renowned for what it tells about relationships and moving forward into better love. A poet can cringe, scratch a note to herself that says “Stop fucking writing fucking poems about that fuck.” But a poet can’t just stop, because truth always finds a way out. Thanks, Sharon Olds, for guiding this first draft…
I fell in
the supermarket lot
today. Cart cartwheeled,
catapulting baby carrots and
beer. Shins and knees aren’t brakes.
The white Prius
idled to watch
my plummet to the Earth.
I don’t fall like this. The physical
way. My landscape an ever-scanned
radar against foolishness.
Until last October. And last
week. My fool’s heart he pitched
then plucked up, to asphalt again. Slammed.
For not touching my softest parts he sure knew
how to pierce
the deepest vein. Bleed me out.
The slowest kill is lies, tied
fast like barbed lures. His dumb
frozen face never seemed a fisherman
to me, but he
plunked it in the shallows
and god I was hungry to make it
truth. The starving will eat filth, will
eat scraps of bread thriving with maggots.
I wasn’t hungry
today when I fell, but shame
rose in the purple plum bruises.
Had he seen my fall…had he seen it
like the other times, my staggering up
on my own. He would
wait, stare, his throat making
that noise of confusion—compassion
is a foreign language. Hurry out of his way,
the Prius waiting. Smile it off. These aches.
Purple plum bruises, just
shadows to keep for a week.
I heal slow but well. Sturdy limbs
that came before. He didn’t make them. I gather
the sliced turkey, the salted truffles, the Goldfish and gouda
in my arms. I breathe thanks
to know I’m the one that always stood up.