I get it now: I made a huge mistake –
assessing my relationships as deals
we cut together, thinking we could make
a thorough interaction that reveals
our selves in full. And so we struck our pact,
in voices two but understanding I
alone absorbed. Coerced agreement lacked
equality, and so was bound to die.
And yet I’m still compelled to make a deal.
I’m still in love with words, and positive
they hold a form of magic that is real,
explaining and enhancing how I live.
I’m trying still to settle all I see,
but now I make successful deals with me.
I see no reason why I can’t collect
a group of new acquaintances, to treat
and talk and tarry with, and then expect
at least a few could generate some heat.
So I imagine recognizing arms
to hold me, or the lips I choose to kiss,
the mind to mesh with mine – the idea charms
my fancy: an experiment in bliss.
I’m formulating function for my plan.
I’ll cultivate some strangers if I may;
I’ll try to love as broadly as one can,
and in my full abandon I will say
and do what happens naturally,
cavorting into possibility.
I love you less with every passing week,
but I don’t care to tell you my dismay.
My closest friend no longer whom I seek,
I’m harboring a secret I won’t say.
I feel I’d act too selfish if I told
unrest, although it may be based on you.
And yet my silence desecrates the gold
we struck when we agreed that we’d speak true.
I thought I wanted intimacy more
than any other circumstance in life.
I figured we in love could best explore
our secret selves – for that I’d be a wife.
But lately I conclude we’re doomed to fail,
for speech is wound and silence is betrayal.
I’m out of step – I walk today in pain.
My neck’s a starboard ache, but that’s not much
compared to what I’m lugging to the train:
a load of rage and rue too deep to touch.
For I can rub my neck or rest my knee,
take aspirin, ice a sprain, or wrap a sore,
but nothing can assuage this injury,
and I can’t cast protection against more.
The candle flickers till I trim its wick.
The lantern sputters till I give it fuel.
Affection falters, and the heart once quick
is slogging in an atmosphere of cruel
confusion and exasperation’s trap,
spelunking in this murk without a map.
A folded fallen leaf I saw today,
sienna on the sidewalk’s pale concrete,
appeared to be a dead bird in my way,
and I prepared to sidestep to the street,
until I recognized it for the leaf
it is: a time-bleached page of sycamore
whose fall betokens other things than grief
or detour, as it drifts through autumn’s door.
If I suspect an omen from a bird
that isn’t there (my eyes too skilled or blind
for old Tiresias), it’s not absurd
to read my vision for intent of mind:
Whatever tender I once held for him
detached last night to settle, dead and dim.
I dare you to be eager for my touch.
I challenge you to perpetrate a kiss.
We’ve been irresolute too long, and such
emotional dishonesty as this
betokens nothing healthy, nothing wise.
It introduces murkiness and waste.
So come on out – discard the old disguise,
accept the dare and let us share a taste
of every promise threatened in your eyes,
of all the chances laden in my speech.
The carousel revolves and see the prize?
It’s waiting for that moment when you reach
from settled, stretching to your far right side,
and win with golden ring another ride.
If only you were muscular and smart,
successful and creative and with hope
of having fun, and opening your heart
to happiness and the kaleidoscope
of possibilities, then I’d be yours.
If I were more secure and driven less,
if I abandoned anger and some chores
and all my lists and all my nervousness,
if I felt slim or even acted so,
it’s obvious that you could then be mine.
Behind closed eyes we’ll see emotions grow
to perfect loving, intimate and fine.
Within closed ears we’ll listen as we go
alone together into bad design.