Parted from Love
I ♥ NY
For two glitter-gold nights in New York,
we were magic. During intermission at the Met,
a held breath between the wings of Turandot,
you even told me I was beautiful and meant it.
For that one moment I was the only woman.
That one heartbeat of our honeymoon.
Now my heart skitters in my wrists,
fingers vised around the steering wheel,
convincing the car to stay in its lane
instead of answering the siren song of
the concrete median. My commute has become
barbed wire stretched stress to stress,
there is no home at home anymore. Only
obligation keeps me here, the spectres of
crowded inbox, confused family, my cats
that you have joked about setting on fire.
There is so little left to me that if St. Christopher
answers my cursed prayers and delivers a happy
accident, the responders will find nothing
between the wings of my pried open Prius. It will be
magic, a disappearance amid the glitter of broken
glass, nothing left but the lie plastered to the bumper.
This is the first poem I’ve written
since that one thing happened
that cleaved my insides like a pear
though to tell you the truth
I think the halves look better now
on their backs, holding aloft
those nearly obsolete seeds,
insides grown soft as marrow.
Adabel Arranges her Whimsies
Her dresser is covered
in shell boxes showing off
green limpets and cebu beauties
white nassas and tan marginellas,
small combs for her hair shaped
as seagulls and starfish, brooches
that look like conches,
pins with coral handles, tips
as sharp as shark fins. He measured
and smoothed abalone into buttons
that she wears on her bodices.
When he was home, landlocked,
he wanted her to wear shimmering
green satin skirts, pale blue silk
blouses, let her hair fall loose
in wide curls. She was aghast
at first, but acquiesced. He braided
Venetian pearls into her strands as
she sat on a stool, reading him books
about knots and sextants. She allowed
him to pierce her ears to wear bobbles
of nautica lineata that dangled as they
danced on the sturdy wood floors.
Always before he left again, the captain’s
bell ringing brass and sharp through town,
he sewed another heart onto her pillow,
clear glass beads against purple velvet.
She woke from her naps impressed
by them, red and puffy-eyed, smelling
salt from her open windows, pulling shells
from her hair for days on end.
I Confide in Anaïs Nin about my Divorce
“For the next 11 years you are the wife of two men, on two coasts. You liken yourself to a trapeze artist, swinging from one husband to the other.” —Sara Corbett writing about Anaïs Nin and Rupert Pole in “The Lover Who Always Stays”
I really just want her to tell me what it was like being married
to two men at once, but I feel compelled to pull out my best stories
in an attempt to impress: how I had three dates on my 21st birthday.
The accidental engagement. The time I didn’t get my key back
when I should have. And even though she’s probably heard it all
before, she’s a good listener. And when she tells me how she met
Rupert Pole—28 years old when she was 44—in an elevator, shortly
after he appeared in John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi on Broadway,
I am remembering reading that play in class long ago and particularly
its sister play, The White Devil. Professor Foss gave me the part of Vittoria
Corombona, accused of murdering her husband to marry another man
in 1585 Padua, and assigned the two boys in class that I was dating
the roles of the corrupt Cardinal and the lawyer at the arraignment.
I still know the lines, sometimes recite them while tidying my apartment:
“Find me but guilty, sever head from body: We’ll part good friends:
I scorn to hold my life at yours or any man’s entreaty, sir.” And I know
that I over-identified with the part all those years ago, but nonetheless,
I can see that Anaïs is pleased by the implied comparison. At the end
of her life, two different newspapers list her as two different men’s wives.
But by then it doesn’t matter. By then, they all know the truth.
Both of her husbands outlive her, Rupert scattering Hugo’s ashes
when he dies next. And I wonder who I can leave myself to if it
comes to that, but she steers me away from that line of thought,
tells me again about the elevator, the cocktail party that followed,
how all the wrong roads we take always turn out right in the end.
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