You could hang a dress
from the edge, wrap it
in silk scarves, black trash bags,
a torn bed sheet.
You could glue lost poems
to the frame, hack it to pieces
with a green plastic knife,
stuff it in the attic
on its side.
But you know
you could never.
Draw a box, he says
2 x 2, and fill it with animals.
Bunnies, frogs, sheep – they all
look the same – lumpy round bellies,
some sort of ears. Snakes too, starfish,
grimacing camels, a cat
on wheels. I have had a first kiss
and a last kiss, but I’ve never
learned to draw. There goes a pig
smiling in profile. Strange
as a first kiss. Fingers
on a table, reaching, tentative
as unfamiliar lips. Cabin wall,
foot path to the lake. My grandmother
has sinus cancer. Two weeks
after that kiss, she
becomes my exit strategy. She
would like this boy; doesn’t know
he has kissed me or even
that he exists. I am done
with his damp kisses.
I am sitting on a bus saying
I can’t do this anymore
because I am too worried
about my grandmother. How odd –
the excuses we reach for. Anything
will do. Puppy, bird, tiger. They all
look the same.
I don’t know where to look
the morning you scream at me
long distance. The exchange
fits no recognizable pattern –
half-eaten bagel, cabs rushing past.
I am shivering on a street corner
hundreds of miles from home, sure
I’ll be divorced within the year. And yet
we circle back. Does anyone even say
long distance any more? Will the bald eagles
return to their power plant nests
near Lake Erie this winter? They have no idea.
I am not making this up. Those eagles
hunt gizzard shad from discharge channels
near the electric lines, which confirms for me
that nothing is ever beyond explanation –
not your hand on my back,
not the way my head
nests between your shoulder and chin,
not our friends’ deluxe new kitchen
which leaves us cold, we’re so relieved
to still love one another, to be driving
through darkness on this minor highway,
finally headed home.
Susan Knoppow is CEO of Wow Writing Workshop. An accomplished speech writer, teacher and copywriter, Susan understands audiences as diverse as creative writing students, college applicants, worried parents, grant review committees and corporate stakeholders. She has worked with students, businesses and nonprofits for more than 25 years.