Last night you let me talk about before
you came, the loneliest time I’ve ever lived.
It seemed to cause you pain to hear it told again.
Today I woke and through our front window admired
the even lines of lawn you’d mowed. You are so steady,
even when you bow and reel. Your quiet order
helps me heal. I only hope I’ve healed you, too.
She gulps milk straight from the carton.
Her gun stays barely holstered, safety off.
She wears neither bra nor sunscreen
nor seatbelt. In the feature of my life,
she has appeared in only a few frames,
but key scenes all. A real character. One I don’t
know so well. I call her by her last name
or handles like Bitch and Warden and Want.
When the sun sets, we meet east of town,
furthest from the fading light, and turn
and face across a sea of rutted mud.
And though her eyes are hid, I know their burn
and know their anger as surely as my own
and when her heart beats, I too feel its blood.
When you meet him, you won’t recognize him. He seems weak:
reflects, where you would have asserted your vaster power.
His wife talks, and he listens. Only when she’s done, he speaks.
And she is eager to hear him. What a strange feat, this man
who has managed to command the ear and willingness of a woman.
But he cries. And thus, you sneer. He is your salvation, but you can’t hear.
Won’t hear or relent. Your arms are bunched with muscle and complaint.
His are lean and smooth; they hold his dear in the dead of night
and hers encircle him in turn. You could kick his ass, and then go home
to the wife who never thanks you fully enough for all you’ve done,
who is never satisfied, never silent, who sags so it reminds you you’re
not young anymore and someday you will die. My dearest former
love, please meet the man you could have been, and could be still:
the one man who most needs you. The one man you could kill.