Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Ex-Poet

This is a picture of some kids standing on the "greasy pole" in Gloucester. When I snapped the shot there just happened to be a huge boat behind them. Someone asked me recently if I write poetry. I don't, but I used to. As some of you may remember I am moving to a new apartment on September 1st and as I was doing a little packing last night I ran across an old poem that I wrote when I was in high school. I had totally forgotten about it but there it was, in among some old yearbooks. At the time I wrote this piece I was doing a lot of thinking about terminal illness, not because I had one or anyone around me did, but because when you're young and figuring the world out you sometimes latch on to one thing or another and think it to death (so to speak). I was fiddling with the concept of blame - the idea that if someone you are in love with is dying, it might be natural to be angry with them for doing so, or to believe that if they just tried hard enough they could get well. After a while I started to feel that my poems were really just stories that I was being too lazy to write so I began to focus on prose. But this is a story that never got written. It just stayed a poem. So here it is and I hope you enjoy it. I guess after a decade it's ripe enough. Marrow It started in the winter months. You told me about the first dream The tomato skin filled with blood Like a hot, fragile water balloon. And you had to eat it, you said. They made you eat it Still warm in your hand. It was on the morning you looked old That my own dreams began Of you floating in the bathtub, Of you walking out of pungent rainfall, Losing pieces of yourself in the road Or on the windowsill. I feared you then As I watched you grow ill Deliberately With a savage glare I was swathed in your malice, safe and afraid As you struck down everyone Who was not me. When the spring months came You were almost gone. You dreamt only of the young cousin Raping you As the moon flew fast overhead And I knew that even the water would not stay down anymore. In your weakness your voice became huge, Your laughter a wall of sound And my fingers played on your new sharpness Finding here and there A cold gulf where flesh had been. When the summer months came You left me. I had watched you break it down Meal by meal. Down to water. Down to death. Stunned...I watched you. So when the trees bleed I grieve again. Soon the dreams will begin, The ones you gave me. Salt and pain. Blood and shame. The rape lives on In my bed. Posted by Hello

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