but sickness still hopes
so I shiver, pull the ends of my hair
and stare out this second-floor window,
imagining vines in the garden below
slowly stretching to life.
From above, interlacing branches become visible
as they inch-by-inch encircle
a woman’s bare wrists. It’s as if
the vines have been shown movies
about the restraint of troubled individuals.
It’s scary how well they know where to tighten,
slithering beneath her rounded ulnar beads,
over the space below her hands’
flat meat and thumb-bulges.
Slinking, they eat each other’s ends.
The woman sits placidly enough, so
one might imagine she’s fallen asleep
and doesn’t know she’s being bound.
Else she’s awake and doesn’t mind.
I want to go into that garden and do what’s right,
but I don’t know what right is.
Of course this is all in my head
and might have to do with marriage.
But what’s the use telling you
I’ve been selfish? I haven’t enough space
to describe all the ways. I’m often broken
in places I’ve been broken before
when I fall short. My mistakes are few
but I remake them near-daily.
Knowing I’ll likely continue this way
wrecks the struts holding up my whole world.
I grow irascible. My words become animate vines
ringing the arms and feet
of the kind woman I married.
Recently, a woman filled with courage
after years keeping secret
a young man’s crimes against her body
spoke about what happened to her.
Some have wondered why she waited
all these years. Listening to her speak —
quietly, deliberately —
one might imagine the truth an agent
of malice it’d taken her years to outrun.
Courage can creak; there’s the possibility
of strength in reserve, hesitation.
While praying lately, I’ve let myself rage.
Speaking on marriage, our pastor
suggested that’s what the psalmists did —
poured all their human weakness
into bullets aimed at God’s eardrums.
The implication: rant to God, not a loved one;
your truth will overpower hers.
When it came time to discuss our expectations,
I told my wife I had none. A week later
I realized I’d lied: what I expected
was to be forgiven my rages,
my forgetfulness, my need to be left alone
to do this scratching out, scratching at.
Our son slept in his car seat.
We hadn’t eaten yet that day.
The car’s engine drowned our stomachs’ crabbing.
While mine clutched the steering wheel,
my wife’s hands lay open in her lap.