Blank and Sad Poem
I often forget that I love you.
We’ve talked about it.
It doesn’t mean I treat you bad.
Sometimes I look at you
like I don’t know you, though,
and you tell me that hurts.
The amnesia is puzzling, because love
is easily the most important thing
that has happened to me.
But even simple things I am unable to recall,
like the faint smile line that shows itself when
you are pushing your mouth against mine.
Or how your eyes slump in exactly
the same way when you are angry
and when you are aroused.
I forget about love because it doesn’t have a clear definition,
ike anthropomorphism or fustigate
or words like that.
I forget because the humanish shadow that follows me
says that love is just another cruel and manipulative
voice in my head.
I want you to know that it is not your fault.
I learned how to forget a long time ago.
Numbness is the guardian angel of children of narcissists.
But I really want to remember now,
because I am tired of hurting you. So I’ve devised a plan
that fills in some of my holes:
I find what makes you happy,
and I appropriate it.
I turn into a Tiffany’s display. I reason,
if I am near items of high value,
I am an item of high value.
I cover myself in conversation pieces to make you
respond in detailed movements that I can observe.
The details are important.
Most days you are the only thing I see in detail.
Other people slide about my vision, blurred shapes in brown.
But you are alive in detail. I can love you in detail.
So I might say something like this:
I read a little more Updike today.
Or this: hear they do yoga on the roof of Whole Foods.
I watch your face,
stationary as a bicycle wheel.
I am a dog with a rabbit at your feet.
Across the street lives a nice man
who gives tennis lessons. I think he went
to the same school as Agassi or Sampras.
Remember the band we saw in L.A. last month?
They have a new album and are playing
in London this summer.
I confess. Updike is precious.
Tennis is exhausting. White people yoga is bullshit.
But that is not the point.
Nods and smiles and looks of recognition
jolt me like electric shock. They clear my mind
of mad thoughts. They restart my heart.
I am a street performer.
My hat is overturned a few steps away from me,
and white makeup is caking on my collar.
The plan works.
The sweets I lay out are too tempting for you to resist,
and you greedily consume all space between us.
I have won something. But in the commotion,
I forget to collect. I go somewhere else. I don’t know where.
It is deserted and the street signs are blank.
Sometimes I’ll look for something familiar to lead me back.
Your grasping hair, your open mouth,
but they are too bright and I am too blind to see.
Then it is done and I am thirsty as a desert. You have poured
swollen rains on me, which have turned into floods.
How easily they dissolve into the sand and disappear.
What is sad?
My daughter asked me.
How do you define that which is its own definition?
The feeling you get that makes you want to cry, I offer.
Like when I fell and scratched my knee?
That’s pain. Pain can be sad. But instead I say,
No, like when you feel bad and that makes you cry.
Like when my tummy hurts?
Her eyes are hunters.
No. Sigh. Let’s say mommy and daddy
left you all alone. How would you feel?
Her long white face.
Sometimes it’s okay,
but let’s hope we don’t feel sad very often.
Her lips are mercenaries.
My tongue a gravestone.
I just introduced sadness into her life,
and now it is ever fresher in mine.